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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams have few free-agent fears

    http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/spo...8?OpenDocument

    Rams have few free-agent fears
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    12/23/2007

    Given the current state of the Rams (3-12), it may be debatable whether this is good news or bad. But with the start of another offseason fast approaching, only 14 of 65 Rams now under contract are eligible for unrestricted or restricted free agency in March.

    In terms of their own roster, the Rams have never been so well-positioned entering an offseason.

    Of the 12 prospective unrestricted free agents, only strongside linebacker Brandon Chillar and center Brett Romberg are primary starters. Of the two prospective restricted free agents, Oshiomogho Atogwe is the only full-time starter.

    Romberg has started only nine games because of ankle problems. Chillar, meanwhile, has been a full-time starter who is enjoying the best season of his four-year NFL career.

    Of the rest of the unrestricteds, offensive lineman Milford Brown has started 14 times ó eight at left guard, four at right tackle and two at right guard. He was a street free agent when the Rams added him to the roster early in training camp, and was slated for backup duty until injuries wiped out the team's line depth. If Brown's back in '08, it almost certainly would be in a backup capacity.

    Similarly, Brandon Gorin was signed off the street in September because of injuries and has made six starts at right tackle.

    Then, there's the case of the Rams' 37-year-old blockers.

    ó Andy McCollum lost the starting job to Romberg coming out of training camp but has made nine starts this season ó six at center and three at left guard. As he concludes his 14th NFL season, McCollum isn't sure if he'll try to make it 15.

    "You can't help but think about it a little bit," McCollum said. "But I'm going to wait to see how I feel once the season's over. Give it a few weeks of rest and see how I feel, and make a decision from there."

    McCollum has bounced back surprisingly well from 2006 knee surgery. But he suffered a bursa sac injury about a month ago in the same knee ó not in the same area that required surgery ó and that has slowed him some in recent weeks.

    ó Todd Steussie, who turned 37 six months after McCollum, wants to return for his 15th season in 2008.

    "I'd be interested," Steussie said. "It's a long ways out. Usually, the older guys like me, they make all the other decisions and then they decide on guys like me. So we'll see. But I'd definitely be open to the idea if it works out."

    After missing the first 10 games of this season because of a foot injury that required surgery, he said his body feels fresh.

    "For my age, I feel pretty darn good," said Steussie, who has started five games at right guard since re-signing with the Rams. "I would not have chosen to break my foot. But considering how things worked out, it was like taking three-quarters of the year off."

    The rest of the Rams' unrestricted list consists of role players. Adam Goldberg is a guard-tackle swing player who made two starts at right tackle before suffering a season-ending knee injury in Game 4. Blocking specialist Aaron Walker emerged as the Rams' No. 2 tight end before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury during the bye week.

    Linebacker Raonall Smith had a niche on special teams, and as the team's "buck" end in passing situations, before landing on the injured reserve list Oct. 17 because of a knee injury.

    Safety Hanik Milligan and running back Travis Minor are core special teams players. (On Thursday, Minor became the 12th Rams player on the injured reserve list. He has a high ankle sprain.) Trevor Johnson has been the No. 4 defensive end all season and has appeared in nine games.

    Other than Atogwe, backup safety Jerome Carter, who has been on IR since early October with a broken foot, is the only other restricted free agent. The Rams can retain matching rights to Atogwe and Carter by making one-year qualifying offers. It will probably take a high "tender," one that would require a first-round draft pick as compensation, to dissuade teams from pursuing Atogwe, who has seven interceptions this season.

    The Rams' 12 unrestricted free agents can go wherever they want, no strings attached, once the free agency period begins in March. But the Rams have exclusive negotiating rights with them until then.

    For most of this season, negotiations with prospective free agents were on hold because coach Scott Linehan's future was uncertain. But team president John Shaw gave Linehan a vote of confidence for 2008 earlier this month, and the Rams are beginning to sort through their list of free agents.

    President of football operations-general manager Jay Zygmunt met with some agents a couple of days ago. Romberg has been told that the Rams would like to re-sign him.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Well... who really wants cast offs from a 3 win team? Other than Chillar, I doubt we'll have an issue getting anyone back if we want them.

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    I love the term "core special team players" when we are dead last in the nfl in kickoff coverage.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Just about every name mentioned was injured or out for the season.

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    need to resign chillar and romberg... maybe stuessie for another 1yr deal... .thats about it... since milfford brown knows our scheme i would bring hi m back just in a backup role

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    We need to lock up Atogwe NOW!

  7. #7
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I love the term "core special team players" when we are dead last in the nfl in kickoff coverage.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel
    As in "rotten to the core," I guess.

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel View Post
    I love the term "core special team players" when we are dead last in the nfl in kickoff coverage.l

    I blame it on the offensive line injuries. If we're going to blame unimaginative offensive play calls and the defense folding in the second half of games on those injuries, we might as well excuse the Special Teams too!!! It's a mulligan all around!!!:x

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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Resign Atogwe and Chillar. Romberg too if the price is reasonable. The rest? Take 'em or leave 'em.

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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Resign OJ, not sure about chillar, if price is right... and thats about it!!

    steve
    "The breakfast Club"

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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Get Atogwe and Chillar back. The rest....whatever.

    However, where's their incentive to resign if they don't even know who their DC is going to be?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    OJ, Chillar, Romberg (theres no other good centers out there and we should get him at a reasonable price).

  13. #13
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Atogwe, Chillar, and I think you can make a case for Romberg and one or two more depth linemen. My instinct says McCollum will retire, but I'd like to see Steussie and Brown return.

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    TekeRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams have few free-agent fears

    Quote Originally Posted by moloch41 View Post
    I blame it on the offensive line injuries. If we're going to blame unimaginative offensive play calls and the defense folding in the second half of games on those injuries, we might as well excuse the Special Teams too!!! It's a mulligan all around!!!:x
    Ummm.... it's easy to blame the offensive line injuries for the defense collapses and the play calling. The kick coverage much less so. With the line injuries, the line can't protect as well, and so more vanilla schemes needed to be called, thus limiting the overall play selection. As for the defense, we don't have great depth and so when the offense is stalling, the defense has to play extended minutes and so they get tired and thusly give up plays.

    The kick coverage is simply either inexperience and bad tackle drills. The line injuries aren't responsible.

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