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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Rams are in no hurry to sign draft choices

    • By Jim Thomas

    Just six weeks after the NFL draft, 192 of the 254 players selected have signed their contracts. Seven teams already have signed all of their draft picks, including Rams NFC West rival Seattle.

    Eight other teams have signed all but one of their draft picks. And 31 of the 32 NFL teams have signed at least two picks.

    The exception? The St. Louis Rams.

    Seven of the remaining 62 unsigned picks in the NFL are Rams draft picks — their entire draft class of 2013. At face value, this seems curious because in the aftermath of the new collective bargaining agreement, all of the contracts are slotted by draft round and position in that round. With first-round draft picks getting much less money under the current CBA, almost all of the drama is gone in signing draft picks.

    Holdouts are nearly a thing of the past.

    With rare exception very little negotiating takes place.

    “It’s a little bit like you have the answers to the test when they hand it to you,” said Kevin Demoff, Rams executive vice president of football operations. “It takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.”

    What then, is the holdup in terms of Rams picks?

    The Rams have preferred to wait a while before getting the deals done. It’s another quirk in how coach Jeff Fisher runs his program.

    “We just feel like they’ll be better suited if we can take them through step A and B of Financial Planning 101 before we give ‘em the money,” Fisher said. “It’s just that simple. We’ll get them all signed and we’re communicating with them.”

    He then added, with a touch of sarcasm: “They’ve got a roof over their head and three meals, and they’re doing fine right now.”

    It’s been pretty well documented how many pro athletes squander their money by the time their careers have ended. Fisher figures the players, and the team, will benefit if he and the rest of the Rams’ organization can set expectations for the rookies on and off the field before showing them the money.

    “Exactly,” Fisher said. “It’s a life-changing event for them. We try to better prepare them for that.”

    Demoff continued: “A big focus of our entire program, with an emphasis from Coach Fisher and (general manager) Les (Snead) is on player development and skill development. We get La’Roi Glover involved, and really taking a holistic approach to the maturation process of the rookies and the vets.”

    Glover, the former Rams defensive tackle, is the team’s director of player programs.

    “One of the things that we think is important with that is bringing the rookies in as a group, having them live together as a group, and not having any real differentiation between the first-round pick and the undrafted rookie,” Demoff said.

    “They’re in the hotel together. They’re eating meals together. They’re doing things together. And then (by the time) they all scatter, we’ll sign their contracts. They’ll leave knowing the contract’s done, so they don’t have to worry about that headache when they go on vacation.”

    Demoff pointed out that this isn’t a case where the team feels signing the players right away, or giving them roster or signing bonus money right away, is a distraction or a problem.

    “That’s not true,” Demoff said. “But there really is no rush to get these contracts done. They’re here, they’re practicing, they’re working hard. They’ll get their contract signed before they head home for summer break. When they come back for training camp it’ll be all football.”

    While the veterans conclude offseason practices at the end of this coming week, the rookies will stick around for another week for more weight training and conditioning. By the time the rookies scatter in late June, Demoff hopes to have most of their contracts done.

    “The difference between signing them May 15 and June 15 is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things,” Demoff said. “But it gives us a greater chance to go in and teach them our program, and give them the opportunity to know the resources that they can use before they sign that contract.

    “It’s really to get them skill training before they sign the contract — an idea of what to do with the first check once we hand it to them. And really try to slow down their process so when they’re here, they’re thinking about football.”

    Even with the streamlined signing process of the new collective bargaining agreement, cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson didn’t sign until July 24 last year, but that was still before the first rookie practice of training camp.

    “Tony Pastoors does a great job of working with the agents ... working on the ones that ought to be negotiated,’’ Demoff said. “We’re gonna begin talking to them. ... And I expect they’ll all be done by the end of the month.”

    Pastoors is a senior assistant to Demoff, and does much of the heavy lifting on getting draft picks signed.


  2. #2
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams are in no hurry to sign draft choices

    Having the rookies get a better understanding of financial planning before they sign their deals is a nice touch. Since the contracts are pretty much slotted due to the wage scale, this is basically a non-issue.
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  3. #3
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams are in no hurry to sign draft choices

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Having the rookies get a better understanding of financial planning before they sign their deals is a nice touch. Since the contracts are pretty much slotted due to the wage scale, this is basically a non-issue.
    It is a very shrewd touch: One it limits rookies' opportunities to indulge in after hours spending sprees, and other mischief (should a few be so inclined). Two, it gives the Rams a chance to coach them up on managing their new found wealth. Given the advent of the new rookie wage scale, the days of rookies holding out appear to be over.

    “The difference between signing them May 15 and June 15 is really irrelevant in the grand scheme of things,” Demoff said. “But it gives us a greater chance to go in and teach them our program, and give them the opportunity to know the resources that they can use before they sign that contract.

    “It’s really to get them skill training before they sign the contract — an idea of what to do with the first check once we hand it to them. And really try to slow down their process so when they’re here, they’re thinking about football.”

    Even with the streamlined signing process of the new collective bargaining agreement, cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson didn’t sign until July 24 last year, but that was still before the first rookie practice of training camp.
    Wonder who the last to sign will be this year? Ogletree possibly?

  4. #4
    r8rh8rmike's Avatar
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    Re: Rams are in no hurry to sign draft choices

    IMO, financial advice goes in one ear and out the other, but it certainly doesn't hurt to give young players the basics. More than anything, a "waiting period" gives these guys a chance to take it all in, get used to being big time athletes, and think about the advice they're getting.

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