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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market

    Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market
    BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 11:45 am

    Less than 72 hours after the team's season-ending loss in Seattle, Rams coaches began evaluating free agents throughout the NFL.

    "We gave them the free-agent lists the UFAs and they started that process (Wednesday) morning," general manager Billy Devaney said.

    Never mind that the current labor impasse between team owners and the NFL Players Association means there is no salary cap, and no guarantee that an agreement will be reached before the March 4 start of free agency period.

    "I think everybody's hopeful that March 4 will come and we'll have a new league year and start (as usual)," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations. "But that's to be determined. You have to have a number of different scenarios mapped out, and adjust depending on how the offseason unfolds."

    In the meantime, the evaluation process remains the same at Rams Park. The scouting staff evaluates potential free agents, the coaching staff gets involved in the process, and you go from there.

    For now, the Rams are treating all players with four years' experience and expired contracts as potential unrestricted free agents, or UFAs. This past offseason, with no salary cap, only players with six years' experience and expired contracts were eligible for unrestricted free agency.

    But for now, the starting point for the Rams in terms of the free-agent evaluation process is that the old system is in place.

    "At some point things may be different, but as of right now we're still planning for the 2011 season and what's best for the St. Louis Rams," Demoff said.

    A big part of that process is evaluating the Rams' own free agents. The Rams have 12 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency and eight scheduled for restricted free agency.

    Of the 12 players on the unrestricted list, five were starters in 2010: wide receiver Mark Clayton, tight end Daniel Fells, defensive tackle Gary Gibson, offensive guard Adam Goldberg, and wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Also, cornerback Kevin Dockery filled the nickel-back role for much of the season.

    Although Devaney isn't tipping his hand, if there's a top priority regarding the 12 UFAs, it's probably Clayton, whose season ended early in Game 5 in Detroit with a patellar tendon injury. After being acquired in a Sept. 6 trade with Baltimore, Clayton had a huge impact in the Rams' passing game, catching 23 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

    "We think the world of the guy," Devaney said. "We would love for him to be here."

    At tight end, Fells finished third on the team in reception yards (391) and fourth in catches (41), while catching two touchdown passes.

    The offseason evaluation is not yet complete of the Rams' current roster, which would include potential free agents and players under contract for 2011. But Demoff has been in touch with the agents for prospective free agents.

    It's not like it's news that they're going to be free," Demoff said. "So we've talked to most if not all of the agents at different points. That doesn't mean that anything is imminent or not imminent. It's just the normal process of business."

    But there has been nothing resembling an offer to any of them at this point.

    "I think it's premature for that," Demoff said, noting that evaluation process isn't completed. "We were letting the players focus on finishing the year without distraction. And we'll resume now the business of football.

    "We have two months before they become free agents or restricted free agents. If there's a deal to be had with those players that makes sense for them and makes sense for the club, it's something we'll explore."

    The Rams have yet to hold their annual offseason summit meeting, which will be run this year by new controlling owner Stan Kroenke. He may add his own twists or points of emphasis in the process.

    "We'll hold our normal offseason meetings," Demoff said. "But it's not like the season ends and it's the first time we thought about 2011. Really, all year you're evaluating players across the league. You're evaluating your own roster. And I'm sure Billy and Steve (Spagnuolo) they'll have their plan and we'll get to work."

    From a player's standpoint, running back Steven Jackson hopes St. Louis is a more appealing destination to outside free agents following the Rams' 7-9 finish.

    "You hope that definitely happens, especially with a young quarterback (Sam Bradford) that looks to be promising," Jackson said. "Our defense is led by some young guys and is very tenacious. I think we have a head coach that has proven that he can turn the franchise around and is someone you can trust.

    "So hopefully now some guys that are free agents will actually give us a legit shot of making this their home. It's a lot easier to consider coming to a team that finished 7-9 and one game away from the playoffs than 1-15.''

    Jackson has tried to recruit players in the past, including current Baltimore wide receiver T.J. Houshmanzadeh. "And I will still do so," he said. "My sole interest is to get this team back to its winning tradition."

    Faucette out

    Assistant strength coach Chuck Faucette was informed Thursday that he is not being retained, according to league sources. Faucette, 47, had just completed his third season on the Rams' staff.

    Dinner in Cleveland

    Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur was scheduled to have dinner Thursday night in Cleveland with Browns officials and then conduct his formal interview there today for the team's head-coaching job.

    More players signed

    According to Demoff, the Rams' entire practice squad has been signed to the offseason roster: QB Thaddeus Lewis, WR Greg Mathews, OT Ryan McKee, C Drew Miller, DT Jimmy Saddler-McQueen, LB Maurice Simpkins, WR Joe West, and as previously reported, RB Chauncey Washington. Contrary to a previous report, LB Curtis Johnson has not signed a contract. He is scheduled for restricted free agency.


  2. #2
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    Re: Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market

    Bring back mark clayton, i dont care if hes the highest paid wr in the league!!!!

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    Re: Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market

    Quote Originally Posted by Alec22 View Post
    Bring back mark clayton, i dont care if hes the highest paid wr in the league!!!!
    i totally agree ..... with the first part anyway

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    Re: Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market

    I have a lot of interest in what the Rams do in free agency this year. Will anything change now that Kroenke is the sole owner? Will the Rams bring in any high-priced talent or continue to rely on the draft?

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    Re: Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market

    Quote Originally Posted by RamFan876 View Post
    I have a lot of interest in what the Rams do in free agency this year. Will anything change now that Kroenke is the sole owner? Will the Rams bring in any high-priced talent or continue to rely on the draft?
    I assume, and hope, that we'll continue to grow our team the right way, which is through the draft. That doesn't mean, however, that you do not grab a talented free agent or two as depth, or even as a starter. What I do not want to see is the Rams all of a sudden throwing tons of money at players to get them here. Any free agents we bring in should be here to play, to win, and because the love the game. Not because we gave them a huge signing bonus.
    I believe!

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