Rams make qualifying offers to 3 free agents
By Jim Thomas
The Rams have made tender offers to three of their four exclusive rights free agents: center Tim Barnes, quarterback Austin Davis and wide receiver Justin Veltung.
Barnes, a University of Missouri product, started the final four games of the 2013 season at center following Scott Wells' season ending broken fibula.
Davis rejoined the Rams on Oct. 23 of last season following Sam Bradford's season-ending knee injury. He was the team's backup quarterback for the final nine games of the season behind Kellen Clemens, but did not appear in any games.
Veltung spent the first 13 games on the Rams' practice squad, then was promoted to the active roster following Tavon Austin's high ankle sprain. He showed some promise as a punt returner, with seven for 61 yards, an 8.7 average, over the final three games.
Exclusive rights free agents have less than three years of NFL experience. Once they receive a qualifying offer — the amount of the offer is based on past league experience — they must play for that team or not at all. For that reason, once an exclusive rights free agent (or ERA) is made an offer, it counts against a team's salary cap.
Barnes and Davis were both tendered at $570,000; Veltung was tendered at $495,000.
So far the Rams have not made an offer to their fourth exclusive rights free agent — cornerback Quinton Pointer. Nor have they made an offer to their only restricted free agent — tight end Mike McNeill, the Kirkwood High product.
The deadline for making qualifying offers to restricted and exclusive rights free agents is Tuesday, the start of the free agency period.