Rams Team Report - March 16
Rams Team Report
Yahoo! Sports - Mar 19, 3:35 am EDT
NFL owners, executives and coaches are in Phoenix for the league meetings, and while there Sunday night the Rams completed a contract with Miami free-agent tackle Jake Long.
Initial reports say the deal is worth either $36 million or "up to" 36 million. That can be significant. When contract numbers are reported after agreements are consummated, the information comes from agents who want the deals to sound as high as possible.
Some agents will include incentives/performance bonuses in the total value, thus inflating the number. For consistency, the best way to report contracts is to simply include base terms like signing bonuses, roster bonuses, reporting bonuses and base salaries.
Profootballtalk.com reported the deal is worth $34 million with incentives that would bring it to $36 million, and that there is $16 million fully guaranteed with another $4 million that will be fully guaranteed next year.
We will see if those numbers hold up when the contract is filed with the league and the NFLPA. If accurate, the Rams paid a high price for a player that has had injuries to both knees, shoulder, biceps, triceps and back. He turns 28 in May.
For now, it is also unknown what his salary-cap figure is for 2013. Prior to the agreement, the Rams had a little more than $6.2 million in cap space, but later in the offseason, they will need between $5 and $6 million for their rookie pool.
Long told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "It was a tough decision. I came in for a visit and coach (Jeff) Fisher and (vice president of football operations) Kevin Demoff and (general manager) Les Snead were amazing. I just fell in love with their vision and the entire organization. And all the great things they had to say about (owner) Mr. (Stan) Kroenke and the way they go about football.
"They really made me feel welcome - my wife and I. It was such a great family atmosphere. It was something I wanted to be a part of. But in the end I wanted to think it through, make the right decision because Miami was amazing to me. Took me No. 1. Mr. (Stephen) Ross and I have a great relationship. This was my home for the last five years, and I just wanted to make sure I made the right decision and I'm happy with the decision I made."
The Rams now have the first two picks from the 2008 draft on their roster. Jake long was selected first overall by the Dolphins, while the Rams picked defensive end Chris Long with the second overall choice. Chris Long signed a new contract last July that has him under contract through the 2016 season. The value of the last four years of his deal is $48.2 million and there was $36.75 million of guarantees in his new contract.
It seems highly unlikely now that the Rams will use one of their two first-round picks on a tackle.
General manager Les Snead told espn.com Sunday, "You never want to go into a draft just desperate because then you will end up drafting a position and those are just two letters in the alphabet. At the end of the day, it's the player that is playing the position that determines whether he is good, very good, excellent, rare, just above average."
--Rams coach Jeff Fisher has always had his eyes on tight end Jared Cook.
It began in 2009 when Cook was draft-eligible after his playing career at South Carolina. Then in Tennessee, Fisher wanted Cook so badly, the Titans traded a second-round pick in 2010 for New England's third-round pick in 2009 so they could select Cook.
"It was his production," Fisher said Thursday when asked what he liked about Cook four years ago. "His size and his speed, his ability to stretch the field, the hand-eye coordination. He's got giant hands. He makes the tough catches. He's a smart young man. He understands offense. He creates mismatches. That was the reason. We actually traded a future pick to get him in that draft and then just watched him develop. He's developed into a good player."
This year, Fisher and the Rams had to sweat out the decision by the Titans whether to place the franchise tag on Cook. They didn't, amid speculation that Cook might challenge getting the smaller tight-end tender of $6.066 million rather than the wide receiver franchise tag of $10.537 million with the thinking that he should be considered a wide receiver because he played the majority of his snaps in the slot.
Cook didn't deny that might have happened. Even though when asked if he considers himself a big wide receiver, Cook said, "No. I consider myself a really good tight end," he later said when asked if it was true he might have challenged the tight-end tag, "The statistics showed it, but that's (neither) here nor there. We're not there anymore."
No, he's not. He's in St. Louis mostly because of Fisher. Why did he choose the Rams?
"The history between me and coach Fisher," Cook said. "I know his vision. I know what he's capable of and I'm excited (about) the path that the Rams organization has taken. It's been a big turnaround. It looks like we're heading for clear skies."
And what is it about his head coach? Cook said, "It's just all about camaraderie. It's about the players and he's going to make sure that his players are happy. He's going to make sure that his players are put in the best situations that they can be in, in order to perform on Sundays. I think that's very important to understand your players and to be able to communicate with them when you're going through a six-month, stressful season. So, he understands the nature of the game."
Fisher can't wait to get Cook on the field.
"Offensively he fits in a lot of different places," Fisher said. "It's about creating mismatches with him and taking advantage of his abilities."
Asked how Cook's arrival might affect incumbent tight end Lance Kendricks, Fisher said, "It only makes it better. We'll have them both on the field at the same time. That creates opportunities for us with the position and you can put the run game together and utilize both of them."
Cook got together with the team's coaches Wednesday, including offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and tight ends coach Rob Boras and was already excited about the team's plans for him. And that would be?
He said smiling, "They explained to me a few different things yesterday. If I told you it wouldn't be a secret anymore, would it?"
However, he then added, "They have a defined vision. Coach Schottenheimer and coach Boras, they know what they want. They know what they're going to do with me. Sitting down with them yesterday in the meeting room going over plays, going over schemes, it had me ready to go. I was ready to line up yesterday. I still am ready to line up right now, just seeing the vision and seeing the layout that they have in this offense for me."
As for the other young talent on offense, Cook concluded, "It's exciting, isn't it? It is really exciting. Just like you said: young, fast and talented players we're bringing in, and we've got a goal set out. We've got guys on defense. Our defense is tremendous. We've got guys that are going to get the job done. We're bringing in guys who will continue to get the job done. Like I said before, it's clear skies. I'm excited and I think a lot of people in St. Louis should be as well."
• With tackle Jake Long having agreed to terms, the next question will be what happens with tackle Rodger Saffold. Saffold has started 35 games at left tackle since being selected in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has been a starter since his rookie season, and missed 13 games because of injuries.
There were rumors when free agency started that Saffold would ask for a trade if Long was signed. His agent, Alan Herman, did not speak of a trade, but did tell the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "I'm sure if you would ask Rodger what position he'd want to play, he'd want to be a left tackle. That's his position. It's a paying position in the league. He's played left tackle his whole life since he was a little kid. Why would he want to move to the other side?"
Herman then acknowledged much of the talk is premature, saying, "I think people are trying to get ahead of the curve here. See what happens, and we go from there. If they sign the guy (Long), I'm sure Rodger's going to be the first one to say: 'I want to be a left tackle.' What happens at that point?"
Saffold is entering the final year of his rookie contract.
Asked about the story about Saffold and the agent's comments, coach Jeff Fisher said, "We had discussions with Rog, not his agents. What I'm concerned about right now is Rodger. And Rodger's fine."
• Within a 24-hour period, Rams free-agent running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola signed with Atlanta and New England, respectively.
In a statement, Rams owner Stan Kroenke said, "For nearly a decade, Steven Jackson served as an inspiration for his St. Louis Rams teammates and our fans as he became our franchise's all-time leading rusher. Off the field, his generosity and unselfishness improved the lives of many families in the St. Louis community. We will always be thankful for his contributions to our team and region and wish him success moving forward."
As for Amendola, he signed shortly after former Patriots wide receiver Wes Welker signed with Denver.
Said Fisher, "We talked to Danny throughout the process and I'm very excited for Danny. I'm happy for Danny and his opportunity and wish him well. We started this process back in September and it didn't work out for us. You'd think that as soon as Welker leaves, that Danny is their guy and in fact he is. He's going to be very productive in their offense."
Quote To Note:
"He didn't have one. I know the guy. What does he have to say?"
- New Rams tight end Jared Cook on whether coach Jeff Fisher had a sales pitch for him to convince him to sign with the Rams.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
The Rams were able to re-sign defensive end William Hayes and defensive tackle Jermelle Cudjo. Coach Jeff Fisher said it was "very important" to get those deals done.
He said, 'Cudj,' as we go back through the tape in the last couple of months, he was a productive player for us. He came in and he was always ready and so we wanted to get that done. Then of course Will was a priority of ours also. The way he played last year really helped the defense up front and we envision him maybe getting more snaps this year and in the years to come. Will, with the seven sacks as a backup, is pretty impressive."
Safety: Quintin Mikell had a good season, but he will be 33 when next season begins and was released. Craig Dahl has heart, but the Rams need better for their starter.
Tackle: Left tackle Rodger Saffold had a solid bounce-back season, but line coach Paul Boudreau could be looking for an upgrade over right tackle Barry Richardson. That might be Saffold if a left tackle like Jake Long is signed in free agency.
Defensive tackle: Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford were stout in the interior, but a third player for the rotation would make everyone better.
Unrestricted Free Agents(8)
•QB Kellen Clemens is a solid backup, who supports starter Sam Bradford and has a strong knowledge of the offense. He is expected back omn another one-year contract.
• LB Mario Haggan was a solid backup and also contributed on special teams. Unless he gets a better offer somewhere else, he might return on a one-year deal.
• DT Trevor Laws never got on the field because of an injury suffered in training camp. He probably won't be re-signed.
• LB Rocky McIntosh added veteran presence on the strong side, but would only be back on a one-year contract.
• T Barry Richardson played better than outsiders expected on the right side, and was one of only two Rams offensive linemen to start all 16 games. The Rams will probably try to re-sign him, but it is also likely there be competition for the job.
• WR Steve Smith was a big disappointment after signing a one-year deal last offseason. He was inactive for seven games and was mostly a forgotten player on the roster.
• G/C Robert Turner did a strong job at both left guard and center, starting all 16 games. The Rams want him back because of his versatility, but there will be competition at left guard if he is back.
• G/T Chris Williams was signed in mid-season and the former Bears first-round pick is an intriguing prospect. On a low contract, the Rams might be interested in having him compete.
Unrestricted Free Agents (not tendered offers)
• LB Justin Cole (not tendered as RFA) contributed on special teams, and might return for the minimum salary.
Restricted Free Agents (1)
• S Darian Stewart (tendered at $1.323M with no compensation) had hoped to compete for a starting job last summer, but a hamstring injury limited him in training camp.
Exclusive Rights Free Agents (2)
• C Tim Barnes is a solid backup that could be brought back at the minimum salary.
• TE Mike McNeill is a solid blocker and will likely return to compete at a crowded position.
• DT Jermelle Cudjo: Potential RFA; $1.805M/2 yrs, $350,000 SB.
• DE William Hayes: UFA; $10.25M/3 yrs, $3.75M SB/$5.75M guaranteed.
• TE Jared Cook: UFA Titans; $35.1M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$19M guaranteed.
•T Jake Long: UFA Dolphins; $34M/4 yrs, $20M guaranteed/$16M fully guaranteed).
•WR Titus Young: Waivers Lions (subsequently released).
•WR Danny Amendola: UFA Patriots; $31M/5 yrs, $6M SB/$10M SB.
•S Craig Dahl: UFA *****; $5.25M/3 yrs, $700,000 SB.
•CB Bradley Fletcher: UFA Eagles; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
•WR Brandon Gibson: UFA Dolphins; $9.78M/3 yrs, $3M SB.
•T Wayne Hunter (released).
•RB Steven Jackson: UFA Falcons; $12M/3 yrs, $4M guaranteed.
•S Quintin Mikell (released).
Re: Rams Team Report - March 16
Saw this did not think it was worthy of it's own thread, so i will stick it here to discuss ...
Jim Thomas @jthom1 6h
Now it can be told: Fisher says Rams informed by Amendola's agents at start of of regular season that he wanted to test free agent market.