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Thread: Rams Team Report
Rams Team Report
Updated: February 16, 2009, 3:00 PM EST
Completing his first month on the job as the Rams' head coach, Steve Spagnuolo's plate has been quite full even if his wife, Maria, hasn't been able to cook as much as usual in these hectic days.
"She calls every day to make sure I'm eating," Spagnuolo said Thursday, during a pause in the day to introduce the team's new coordinators to the local media. "She keeps saying I'm losing weight."
It does appear Spagnuolo is thinner than he was when introduced on Jan. 19. Hiring a staff, preparing for the combine and evaluating the current roster can take up a lot of time.
So, what has the first month been like?
"Challenging and exciting and wonderful all at the same time," he said.
With his staff hired, Spagnuolo can now tackle the next items on the agenda, most of which involve the start of free agency on Feb. 27. Not only must the Rams put a game plan together concerning who they want to pursue, but they also have to make major decisions regarding players on the roster. Especially those with large salaries.
The Rams are currently about $14 million under the cap, but that doesn't include potential tenders to restricted and exclusive rights free agents.
Staring them in the face are cap charges of $10.2 million for wide receiver Torry Holt and $9 million for left tackle Orlando Pace. If both were released or traded, $14 million would be added to the team's cap, and the club would save that much in 2009 actual compensation. Of that $14 million, Holt is owed $8 million and Pace $6 million.
However, with numerous needs on the team, the team has to decide whether letting them go is prudent because it would create even more holes on the roster.
With questions about Drew Bennett returning from injury, Holt is the only veteran presence on the roster at receiver. At tackle, Alex Barron is entering the final year of his contract, and there are doubts he would be re-signed in 2010/
There is the potential of restructuring the contracts of Pace and Holt and pushing salary into future seasons. In the end, the determination will be whether general manager Billy Devaney is confident the team can at least be competitive next season without Holt and/or Pace, while also building for the future with younger players.
Spagnuolo acknowledged he has had little time to watch tape, and when asked about making decisions on players, he said, "We will have to rely heavily on Billy, others that have been here, as well as coaches that were retained."
If the Rams want to see if contract restructuring is possible, it could be done in one phone call, since Holt has recently hired Kennard McGuire, the same agent that represents Pace.
Notes and Quotes
--The Rams are pushing to try and re-sign cornerback Ron Bartell and free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe before free agency begins Feb. 27, with Bartell apparently the higher priority.
Contract negotiator Kevin Demoff will likely talk with Bartell's agent at the scouting combine next week in Indianapolis.
--Work is set to begin on improvement to the Edward Jones Dome that will be completed in time for the 2009 season.
--The team's offseason program will begin March 16. As a new coach, Steve Spagnuolo can hold two mandatory veteran minicamps. No dates have been set, but one will be before the draft and one after.
Said Bruce Sommer, director of America's Center, "We're pleased to move forward with these improvements to the Edward Jones Dome because our goal is to provide our fans with the best possible environment to experience St. Louis Rams football. We expect these upgrades to significantly enhance the fan experience at the Edward Jones Dome."
"The Rams are excited about the on field product we are assembling for the 2009 season as well the refurbishment of the Edward Jones Dome," said Bob Wallace, executive vice president/general counsel. "We believe these collective enhancements will deliver a dramatically different entertainment experience to our valued fans."
Most noticeable will be new scoreboards and video boards. In addition, the construction of new clubs at the north and south ends of the dome will allow outside light into the stadium and keep it from having such a dark look.
--Five members of the Rams' cheerleading squad are leaving on a military goodwill tour of the Middle East. The group will depart St. Louis on Friday, February 13 and visit bases in Iraq and Kuwait before returning to St. Louis on February 23.
As part of the tour, the cheerleaders will visit three military bases each day and meet with members of the military. The cheerleaders making the trip are Danielle Hogan, Lauren Moore, Christa Marx, Shannon Ward and Tiffany Crocker.
"We're very proud of the cheerleaders' commitment to make this important trip and honor our service men and women for their sacrifices and the tremendous service they provide our country on a daily basis," said Lucia Rodriguez, the team's owner/partner and chair of community outreach. "The Rams have a long history of honoring our nation's military, and continuing to demonstrate our support of the troops is a priority for the organization."
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I wouldn't be very smart unless I leaned on him for his expertise." -- Defensive coordinator Ken Flajole, when asked how much of a collaborative effort it will be between he and head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Strategy and Personnel
After the final additions to the coaching staff, head coach Steve Spagnuolo made official some position assignments. The final three hires were Clayton Lopez as cornerbacks coach, Andy Sugarman as quality control/offense and Derius Swinton as quality control/special teams.
Paul Ferraro, who had been named to the defensive staff, will coach the linebackers, while Andre Curtis will coach the safeties. Frank Leonard, who had been named to the offensive staff, will coach the tight ends.
TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY
As free agency is set to start, the Rams have made it a priority to re-sign S Oshiomogho Atogwe and CB Ron Bartell.
There are also several key decisions to be made in regards to veterans with large cap numbers. Those include LT Orlando Pace ($9 million) and WR Torry Holt ($10.2 million). The Rams could gain $14 million in cap room by releasing or trading them, but that would also create additional holes in the roster.
An attempt could also be made to restructure their contracts. Other veterans in potential jeopardy include DE Leonard Little and WR Drew Bennett.
TOP THREE TEAM NEEDS
1. Tackle: With LT Orlando Pace nearing the end of his career and RT Alex Barron entering the final year of his contract, a revamping of the position is possible. Whether it's in free agency or the draft, or both, the Rams are expected to begin retooling the position.
2. Center: Unless the decision is made to move Richie Incognito back to center from guard, an upgrade is needed here.
3. Middle linebacker: There is a desire to move Will Witherspoon to the outside, but it can't be done unless a credible middle man can be found.
MEDICAL WATCH: LB Will Witherspoon is scheduled to undergo surgery on a shoulder that bothered him most of the 2009 season
FRANCHISE PLAYER: None.
TRANSITION PLAYER: None.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--S Oshiomogho Atogwe is a ball-hawking free safety that the Rams are trying to re-sign.
--CB Ron Bartell has progressed steadily and is a priority to re-sign to avoid creating another position of need.
--CB Fakhir Brown was a favorite of former coach Jim Haslett, and is not expected to return.
--CB Jason Craft was acquired during the 2008 season and made some valuable contributions. Could be back at the right price.
--OT Anthony Davis didn't play after being signed during the season, but might be back to compete for depth.
--DT La'Roi Glover played with a bad knee for most of the second half of the season and is contemplating retirement.
--T/G Adam Goldberg started at four different positions last season making his versatility valuable on the line.
--OT Brandon Gorin missed the entire 2008 season with a shoulder injury and is unlikely to return.
--WR/KR Dante Hall has experienced leg injuries the last two seasons, and his age is catching up to him.
--C Nick Leckey is a battler despite being undersized, but missed the final six games because of a broken foot. Will only be back if the Rams don't add to the position.
--WR Dane Looker has always gotten the most out of his ability, but coaching change might means it's the end of the line for him.
--CB Ricky Manning played five games before going on injured reserve, but could compete for a spot if recovered from his injury.
--RB Travis Minor has contributed on special teams, but it seems to be a longshot that he'll be re-signed.
--DE Eric Moore has hung around and tease with his ability, but rarely able to make an impact in games.
--OT Rob Petitti never made it to training camp after being injured in offseason workouts. Very unlikely to be back.
--C Brett Romberg might return to compete for a backup job, but this is a position the team wants to upgrade.
--LB Gary Stills added leadership to the special teams before being slowed by a knee injury. It's unknown how the new coaching staff views him.
--C Cory Withrow is another undersized lineman added to the roster because of injuries. Not expected to be re-signed.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--DE Victor Adeyanju has showed steady progress in his three seasons, and he is needed for depth on the line.
--OG Richie Incognito has ability, but has to curb his emotions during games. The question is whether he's worth a $1 million tender.
--OG Mark Setterstrom has played just three games in two seasons because of two knee injuries. His rehab is going well, but can a large tender be justified?
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: Unknown.
--QB Brock Berlin: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--LB Quinton Culberson: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.
PLAYERS ACQUIRED: None.
PLAYERS LOST: None.
Re: Rams Team Report
Drew Bennett is still in question about his return from injury?!!!!!!!
Enough already....Bye bye
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