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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    By Jim Thomas

    The math wasn’t good for Quintin Mikell after last season, and he knew it.

    Although the veteran safety was coming off a good season for the Rams, his base salary was scheduled to jump to $6 million in 2013 from the $1 million he earned in 2012. The Rams needed the salary cap room, so Mikell was released on March 11 — one day before the start of free agency.

    Regardless of the circumstances, most players never expect to get cut, especially in a case where according to Mikell he was willing to restructure his deal.

    “Yeah, that came as a little bit of a surprise in the fact that I’ve always been a team player, and I was willing to do whatever needed to be done to come back,” Mikell said. “But obviously it just wasn’t in the cards. It’s just the business part of it.”

    Now playing for Carolina, the Rams’ opponent Sunday in Charlotte, N.C., Mikell spoke on a conference call Wednesday in what were his first comments to St. Louis reporters since his release.

    “I had no control over what happened,” he said. “That’s they way it goes sometimes in business, but I’m happy where I’m at. I’m excited that I can help Sean (McDermott) and this defense — and really this team — win some games.”

    McDermott is the Panthers’ defensive coordinator.

    Last season for the Rams Mikell recorded 114 tackles — third on the team behind linebackers James Laurinaitis and Jo-Lonn Dunbar. It was also the third-highest tackle total of his 10-year career. As opposed to 2011 — his first season in St. Louis — Mikell had very few missed tackles in 2012. He registered a career-high three sacks, and he had a team-high four forced fumbles.

    “I had a good year and felt like I did well enough to help us win some games,” Mikell said. “I wasn’t perfect, but I played hard, and I gave it my best. And that’s all I ever do.”

    On more than one occasion after Mikell’s release, the Rams expressed interest in re-signing him.

    “We have interest,” coach Jeff Fisher said at the NFL owners meetings later in March. “He played very well for us last year.”

    But after the Rams selected safety T.J. McDonald in the third round of the NFL draft, that talk ceased. Mikell said he never heard anything from the Rams about re-signing him.

    “Oh no,” Mikell said, chuckling. “Not at all. Unless they talked to my agent, and he didn’t tell me anything. But he definitely tells me everything, so there was nothing really there.”

    The Rams wanted to get younger and more athletic at safety. But through six games this year, you can make the argument that their safety play was better in 2012 with Mikell, now 33, and Craig Dahl (now with San Francisco).

    Following his release, Mikell spent the offseason and summer training on his own near his New Jersey home. He missed the camaraderie of being around his teammates.

    “That probably was the most difficult part in the offseason, just because you get so used to being in the locker room,” Mikell said. “You go train, (you’re in) meetings, and then after that you hang out with the team or whatever.”

    He made a visit to Carolina in early July, and other teams called expressing interest. But at this stage in his career, fit was important to Mikell. He didn’t want to move his family too far, and the situation had to be one where he felt comfortable.

    That place turned out to be Carolina, although the Panthers waited nearly two months after the visit to sign him on Sept. 2.

    “We were really surprised that he was still out there,” Carolina coach Ron Rivera said. “You know the big thing that really helped us out was our relationship with him. Knowing he was out there, we always had in the back of our minds if we got into a pinch, and he was still available.”

    The “pinch” occurred following the Panthers’ preseason finale. They came out of that game with no less than four safeties on their injury list.

    “I mean it was crazy,” Rivera said. “We were down to two healthy guys.”

    The Panthers signed Mikell on the Monday of their regular-season opener, and he was in the starting lineup six days later. Mikell suffered an ankle injury in Game 2 against Buffalo and missed the next two contests. But he was back in the lineup last week against Minnesota, and he has 14 tackles with a sack, a forced fumble, and a pass breakup for the season.

    “He’s helping their defense,” Fisher said Wednesday.

    “He’s still playing at a pretty high level,” quarterback Sam Bradford added.

    The Panthers were a perfect fit for Mikell in part because of his past association with Rivera and McDermott. After being signed as an undrafted rookie by Philadelphia in 2003, Mikell spent eight seasons there with McDermott, who advanced from various roles coaching the secondary to coordinator in ’09.

    He also got to know Rivera, because Rivera was Philly’s linebackers coach during Mikell’s rookie season.

    “(Rivera) was always a fiery guy and always ready to go — like he still wanted to play,” Mikell said. “You can tell now. He’s real fired up and I like that in a coach.”

    As for facing his former coaches and teammates in the Rams, Mikell concedes: “Obviously, whenever you get to go against your former team, it’s always so good. And you get excited to show ’em what you still have. So I definitely am motivated. Not more than any other week, but it’s just a different type of motivation this week.”


  2. #2
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    So who is concerned that Mikell might be able to make a big impact given that he knows the Rams offense and defense. His scouting impact will be minimal since the coaches watch film and know what the plays and scheme will be and have worked on it. Still it might help Mikell be faster himself and be able to recognize what the rams tendencies are on various plays. And as he says, he willmotivated to show what he has left.....

  3. #3
    Stone Cold Tavon Austin's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    It is very rare to see Offenses run the same schemes as the season before with as much traffic changing teams each season.....That is not to say that he may not understand the coaching tendencies, but it is very unlikely that he will know any of the plays.......Even in college our staff would change plays each week making adjustments etc. so when watching film it was not simple to pick up in real time....I cannot imagine the UCF coaching staff would do this and not NFL staffs.

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    KoaKoi is offline Registered User
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    Let Jared Cook run over him. He can start recognizing that all he wants...

  5. #5
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    I'm seeing a long TD pass over the top of Mr. Mikell.

  6. #6
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone Cold Tavon Austin View Post
    It is very rare to see Offenses run the same schemes as the season before with as much traffic changing teams each season.....That is not to say that he may not understand the coaching tendencies, but it is very unlikely that he will know any of the plays.......Even in college our staff would change plays each week making adjustments etc. so when watching film it was not simple to pick up in real time....I cannot imagine the UCF coaching staff would do this and not NFL staffs.
    Quarterbacks have favorite players and tendencies which defenders know. When we played the Giants, Blackburn who played for them last year was in the backfield on every play. He knew what they wee going to do. Mikell knows what Bradford likes and what he does against what defenses. You can call different plays but in the end quarterbacks particularly when under pressure revert to back to the same old tendencies. Lets see if he gets any picks again this week.

  7. #7
    Stone Cold Tavon Austin's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    We have tendencies yes, but when you have nearly an entirely new receiving core your tendencies tend to change.

  8. #8
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    Quote Originally Posted by Stone Cold Tavon Austin View Post
    We have tendencies yes, but when you have nearly an entirely new receiving core your tendencies tend to change.
    As long as the same guy throws the ball on every play, it doesn't matter who catches it. He is going to do what he does best.

  9. #9
    Stone Cold Tavon Austin's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap issues left Mikell in tough spot with Rams ..

    That is the thing though and why Bradford was taken number 1.......He does not do just one thing better then the rest.....I watch his film weekly and yes he has mistakes in his form etc. but I can not say of one aspect he is strongest in.

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