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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Salary cap is obstacle for Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Jan. 27 2005

    In today's NFL, it's no longer the offseason. It's the business season. And now
    that the Rams' season is over, the challenge for team management, the personnel
    department and the coaching staff is to improve the roster within the
    ever-tightening constraints of the salary cap.

    The Rams have 44 players under contract for the 2005 season or beyond. Those
    players count $71.3 million against a 2005 cap that is expected to be around
    $86 million. That leaves the Rams with nearly $15 million to fill out their
    53-man roster, assemble a practice squad and replace injured players during the
    season.
    Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations, has skillfully managed
    the salary cap during the team's 10-year stay in St. Louis. But largely because
    of last June's release of Kurt Warner, what's known as "dead money" is becoming
    an issue in the team's salary cap picture.
    Dead money is money that counts against a team's salary cap for players no
    longer with the team. All told, the Rams have $7,774,000 in dead money, which
    is roughly 9 percent of their projected 2005 cap: Warner counts $6.7 million
    against the cap; center Dave Wohlabaugh counts $1 million; and safety Jason
    Shivers counts $74,000.
    The total in dead money could climb, depending on whether offensive tackle Kyle
    Turley and running back Marshall Faulk return. Early indications are that Faulk
    will be back, but Turley seems intent on talking his way out of town, even if
    his back is healthy.
    As things stand, the Rams have six players under contract who count $4.5
    million or higher against the cap in 2005:

    Wide receiver Isaac Bruce: $9.34 million.

    Faulk: $7.53 million.

    Warner: $6.72 million.

    Turley: $5.57 million.

    Defensive end Leonard Little: $5 million.

    Wide receiver Torry Holt: $4.52 million.

    Combined, those six players account for $38.68 million of 2005 cap space.
    That's a lot of money for a handful of players. Only four teams in the NFL have
    more than six players under contract who count $4.5 million or more against the
    cap in 2005: Cleveland, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Tennessee have seven
    apiece. (The league average is four such players per team.)
    Now assume for a moment that the Rams place the franchise tag on left tackle
    Orlando Pace for the third consecutive season. Team president John Shaw
    consistently has said the team will do just that if unable to reach agreement
    on a multiyear deal. Whether Pace's lackluster play in the Rams' playoff loss
    to Atlanta changes Shaw's mind is uncertain.
    In the 2005 season, a franchise tag on Pace will be at least $8.5 million. Add
    that to the cap numbers of the six players listed above, and the Rams would
    have more than $47 million of cap space tied up in seven players.
    Despite rumors to the contrary, Pace still does not have an agent. On Thursday,
    an NFL Players Association spokesman confirmed this was the case. The rumor
    mill has installed Tom Condon of IMG and St. Louisan Rocky Arceneaux as the
    frontrunners. Arceneaux recently told the Post-Dispatch his supposed
    "frontrunner" status was news to him.
    In any event, a multiyear deal with Pace could chop as much as $5 million off
    his salary cap number compared to what it would be if he were franchised in
    2005, and that could help the team address another need or two in free agency.
    At the moment, safety, linebacker, defensive line (particularly end) and
    offensive line remain the team's greatest needs. The Rams have 14 players
    scheduled for unrestricted free agency the first week of March.
    Among that group, Pace, defensive end Bryce Fisher, safety Antuan Edwards and
    tight end Cameron Cleeland are players the team wants back. Edwards didn't play
    well in the Atlanta game, but he was the best safety the Rams had in 2005, in
    terms of range and hustle. But even if the Rams sign Edwards, they still need
    to add bodies at safety because Adam Archuleta is the only player the Rams have
    under contract at that position.
    Fisher came on strong late in the 2004 season and led the team with 8 1/2
    sacks. There is a feeling among some coaches at Rams Park that they have worked
    to help develop Fisher into a player, so why let him go elsewhere now that he's
    proven he can play in the NFL?
    But how high do the Rams bid in trying to retain Edwards and Fisher? There
    isn't much out there in terms of prospective free agents at safety. The list is
    much more intriguing at defensive end, where John Abraham of the New York Jets,
    Reggie Hayward (10 1/2 sacks in 2004) of Denver, Darren Howard of New Orleans
    and Derrick Burgess of Philadelphia are scheduled to be unrestricted.
    At linebacker, perhaps the team's poorest performing unit in 2004, the Rams
    appear to have lukewarm interest - at best - in re-signing Tommy Polley, who's
    scheduled for unrestricted free agency. There are several intriguing names
    there across the league, including Philly's Jeremiah Trotter, Baltimore's Ed
    Hartwell and San Francisco's Julian Peterson.
    On the offensive line, the Rams are considering moving promising young blocker
    Scott Tercero to right tackle and moving Blaine Saipaia to left guard. Even if
    those moves turn out well, the Rams still need more bodies up front.
    It looks as if Turley won't be back. Left guards Tom Nutten (toe) and Chris
    Dishman (knee) may have to retire - again, in both cases - because of injury.
    Keep in mind, the list of prospective free agents is a moving target. Between
    now and the first week of March, several teams will re-sign some of their
    prospective free agents, taking them off the market. A half-dozen or so players
    will be named franchise players, in effect taking them off the market.
    But there also will be a late surge of players added to the market in the form
    of salary cap cuts because teams must be under $86 million by the start of the
    free agency period.
    The Rams actually are in better cap shape than most teams. At $71.3 million,
    the Rams have more cap room than all but 10 NFL teams - and probably have
    enough money to make a couple of forays into the free-agent market.
    Tennessee, Miami and Tampa Bay, for example, are between $16 million and $26
    million over the cap, meaning they will have to jettison players and rework
    contracts to squeeze under the cap by the first week of March.
    The Rams may rework Faulk's contract for cap relief - he's scheduled to count
    $7.53 million against the cap in 2005.


  2. #2
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap is obstacle for Rams

    Just one defensive player among the most paid on the Rams, and we as fans expect the defense to play lights out. Well, you get what you pay for.

    I would think both Bruce and Faulk will be asked to restructure, and IF Pace signs a long term deal, then and only then can the Rams go after both a LB and a DE.

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap is obstacle for Rams

    Well, $15M is better than the projection I posted in the other forum, so I'm happy about that. While I'm not sure how fair it is to ask Bruce to restructure after the year he had, it certainly appears necessary. Same with Faulk.
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    Re: Salary cap is obstacle for Rams

    If I were asked to restructure a contract "for the good of the team", I think I'd want some concrete assurances on how that money would be spent first.

    I wouldn't be too happy if the team used the money saved in order to draft another running back in the 1st round for instance. And frankly, I haven't put it past the Rams' FO to make another questionable move. It just is their tendency. And it is obvious that not much is about to change this off-season.

  5. #5
    majorram's Avatar
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    Re: Salary cap is obstacle for Rams

    I'm sure they will ask Bruce to restucture his contract or might the Rams sign him to an extension, thus Bruce will retire a Ram..

    To me this off season will again be, if we sign Pace to an long term deal


    steve :ramlogo:

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