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    Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Next up for Rams is finding players
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Feb. 08 2009

    The front-office pieces are in place, with a "cap guy" (Kevin Demoff) and a pro personnel director (Mike Williams) recently hired and currently on duty at Rams Park.

    As early as Monday, coach Steve Spagnuolo could announce what are believed to be the final two hires on his staff a quality control coach on offense and a cornerbacks coach on defense.

    So now it's time to find some players for a Rams franchise that has lost 27 of its last 32 contests. This past week, much of the focus shifted from putting together a staff to evaluating personnel. Williams and many of the coaches spent hours grinding away on tape of prospective free agents.

    Trouble is, the Rams are a modest $14 million under the 2009 salary cap ceiling of $123 million. At first blush, $14 million seems like a decent war chest. But the Rams' rookie salary cap the amount of money they will be allocated to sign draft picks projects at about $6 million this year.

    Much of the remaining money will be needed to re-sign pending free agents Oshiomogho Atogwe, a safety, and cornerback Ron Bartell. (All indications are that they remain top priorities for the Rams, even with the hiring of a new head coach.)

    And if the Rams end up placing the franchise tag on Atogwe, that designation alone eats up $6.34 million of cap space.

    So what does that leave for signing outside players once the free agency and trading period begins Feb. 27?

    Not much.

    Devaney, Spagnuolo and Demoff have tough decisions to make if they want to clear cap room to be active in free agency. Where will the money come from?

    Currently, five Rams count at least $7.4 million each against the cap in 2009: wide receiver Torry Holt ($10.2 million), offensive tackle Orlando Pace ($9 million), quarterback Marc Bulger ($8.5 million), defensive end Leonard Little ($7.6 million) and running back Steven Jackson ($7.4 million). Combined, those five players account for $42.7 million, or nearly 35 percent of the team's 2009 cap space.

    Despite his detractors, Jackson remains the team's best player. He's not going anywhere. Bulger has had two down years in a row, and it would be understandable if Spagnuolo wondered whether Bulger truly is a franchise-type quarterback. But the cap hit from trading or releasing him is prohibitive.

    Regarding Little's cap count, the Rams would save only a modest $2.5 million by cutting or trading him. So it doesn't make much sense to dispatch him, particularly because he remains the team's top pass rusher when healthy.

    That bring us to Holt and Pace. The Rams would free up $8 million of cap space by cutting or trading Holt by June 1. They'd save $6 million by cutting or trading Pace by June 1.

    So in essence, the Rams would double their cap room from $14 million to $28 million by dispatching Pace and Holt. These would not be easy decisions. Pace and Holt have been to seven Pro Bowls a piece. They were mainstays of the Greatest Show on Turf squads. They have conducted themselves in exemplary fashion on and off the field in St. Louis.

    But with the arrival of Spagnuolo, the franchise is two coaching tenures removed from the "glory days" of Rams football. Will the wave of change sweeping over Rams Park extend to Pace and Holt a pair of Hall of Fame candidates?

    NFL scouts, front office executives and coaches offer a variety of opinions regarding Pace. Some feel he's near the end of a great 12-year career and doesn't have much left. Others feel he's still an effective player, although not what he was a few years back.

    The danger, of course, potentially comes from casting Pace, 33, aside too soon. The best recent example is left tackle Willie Roaf, who enjoyed several fine seasons with Kansas City after being tossed aside by New Orleans.

    And if Pace goes, the Rams' hand would be forced. They'd have to add a starting tackle via free agency, the draft or trade.

    Holt, 32, doesn't have the deep speed he once had, in part because of knee problems and in part because of advancing age. But he was misused and underutilized for much of the '08 season by a Rams staff that seemed intent on force-feeding Donnie Avery into the No. 1 receiver role.

    Over the last month of the season, Holt flashed some of his old form. His production over the last four games would have translated into 76 catches for 1,080 yards over a full season.

    If Holt goes, would the Rams be comfortable depending on youngsters Avery, Keenan Burton and Derek Stanley, plus disappointing veteran Drew Bennett, as their core receivers? Holt's departure might tilt the Rams strongly toward taking Texas Tech's Michael Crabtree with the No. 2 overall pick. Or trading down for Missouri's Jeremy Maclin, who's widely regarded as the next-best wide receiver in the draft behind Crabtree.

    At the Senior Bowl last month, one veteran scout said the word was that the Rams were floating the names of Pace and Holt as available via trade for a third-round pick.

    League sources told the Post-Dispatch that an NFL club believed to be Tennessee was offering a first-round pick for Holt before the trading deadline last fall. The Rams decided against making the trade, the source said.

    Of course, another option to free up cap space is simply restructuring the contracts of Pace and Holt. The agents for Pace and Holt did not return phone messages left Thursday and Friday.

    The trading period doesn't resume until Feb. 27. If the Rams are intent on using a trade of Pace or Holt to free up cap space for free agency, the players would have to be moved right around that time.

    It would make no sense to wait until April, just before the draft, to make the trade, because by then all of the top free agents will be gone. Invariably, most of the ever-dwindling number of quality free agents are off the shelves by mid-March.

    Teams can begin releasing players Monday to free up cap space. And there are cap-saving options on the roster other than Pace and Holt, although none that would free up as much money. For example, releasing strong safety Corey Chavous would save $1.2 million. Releasing linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa would free up $2.25 million.

    If the Rams decide to go in another direction for a backup quarterback, releasing Trent Green would save $1.3 million. And releasing defensive tackle Claude Wroten, who was suspended for the entire '08 season for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy, would free up $726,000.


  2. #2
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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    if they had a shot of giving up Holt for a #1 and passed that isn't going to sit well with alot of folks,chalk it up to the old regime and move forward,but that would have allowed us to take Crabtree at #2 and grab a very good o-lineman with our second #1 pick.As for Pace I think he will restructure his deal and stay here,I believe Holt will not so he is on his way out.
    Last edited by jkramsfan; -02-08-2009 at 02:08 PM.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Im starting to think now the most important things the team needs is a very productive FA instead of solely relying on the draft..what i mean is even without the flashier names, still being able to land players that can make a sudden impact with their skills alone, and at the same time knowing which players to keep/release..iMO, we should keep Pace and release Holt..Now that we have an 'attractive' set of coaches, hopefully we can turn some of these FA's heads to give us a better chance of us getting them..
    I was never even thinking twice about taking Crabtree, but now I really dont know anymore, im sure we'd make it work to our advantage one way or another as I think we have coaches, as well as the GM were starting to trust who have something to prove when it comes to the FA/Draft/Trade..


    Would we take a hit to realease Bennett??..
    Last edited by unorthodox1999; -02-08-2009 at 02:17 PM.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan View Post
    if they had a shot of giving up Holt for a #1 and passed that isn't going to sit well with alot of folks,chalk it up to the old regime and move forward,but that would have allowed us to take Crabtree at #2 and grab a very good o-lineman with our second #1 pick.As for Pace I think he will restructure his deal and stay here,I believe Holt will not so he is on his way out.
    If it was Tennessee, though, I'm sure they figured there was a good chance it would be a glorified second rounder. It certainly would be very late in the 1st Round.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    As much as I like Holt. We need the space and wouldn't be bothered if he left. We need to rebuild this team. Getting additional money for FA and Draft is a large part of that.

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    Rams are shopping Holt and Pace

    St Louis Post Dispatch says an NFL scout told them that the Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third round picks. They also noted that the Titans had offered the Rams a first rounder at the trade deadline but haslett refused because he was trying to win games.
    First off, this is great news in the fact that it's possible to trade them instead of releasing.
    second off, screw haslett. Win Games? That's as selfish as is gets, we were completely out of it at that point and a first rounder can bring us back much more than Holt ever will at this point in his career.
    Granted, both of these players are Hall of famers and Ram greats. But, this is about business and winning games.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by PeoriaRam View Post
    If it was Tennessee, though, I'm sure they figured there was a good chance it would be a glorified second rounder. It certainly would be very late in the 1st Round.
    I understand what your saying but glorified 2nd rounder or not,you really don't pass on deals like that when you are as bad as the Rams have been.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by PeoriaRam View Post
    If it was Tennessee, though, I'm sure they figured there was a good chance it would be a glorified second rounder. It certainly would be very late in the 1st Round.
    They knew where Tennessee was picking at the time, which was 24th. They ended up choosing Chris Johnson with that pick. How nice would it be to have Chris Johnson in Horns?

    If this is true and they passed that offer up, I have no idea what they were thinking. That was just plain stupid.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by HornIt View Post
    They knew where Tennessee was picking at the time, which was 24th. They ended up choosing Chris Johnson with that pick. How nice would it be to have Chris Johnson in Horns?

    If this is true and they passed that offer up, I have no idea what they were thinking. That was just plain stupid.
    That's incorrect. The trade offer wasn't for last year's first round pick. The article says the first-round offer came last fall before the mid-season deadline. So it would have been for a 2009 first round pick. If it was Tennessee, then ultimately that pick would have been the 30th overall pick.

    EDIT: That's still a very good offer for Holt, and I'd be tempted to take it. The only bad thing is that you're essentially admitting that you've entered rebuilding mode in October. The Rams fired Linehan on Sept 29th and gave Haslett the interim job. The potential for success in that situation was slim, but trading away your best receiver only further hinders Haslett's chances for success. Depending on how close the offer came to the trading deadline, the Rams' road win over Washington may have tipped the scales in favor of keeping Holt.
    Last edited by Nick; -02-08-2009 at 03:04 PM.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    If they will still give us that deal, then we need to. It's what is best for this franchise.

    I'm afraid we're going to lose Pace and Holt. They are two of my favorite Rams of all time. But like every player, their time has come.

    If we can get anything like a first or second round pick, it is worth it. A third, I'd be a little skeptical, but we have to see.
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    Devaney, if you care about this team... fire the offensive coordinator!!!!

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    In all these articles why is Bennett's complete waste of cap money never brought up? I mean if anyone should restructure it's him right? Holt is replaceable just not by Bennett. I think we should keep Pace and re-structure his contract. That gives us wiggle room in the draft. The thing that bothers me about drafting a tackle is that wasnt the weakest part of our oline. How does drafting a tackle 2nd overall fix the debacle of our interior o-line? Most of you don't like Barron but his blocking skills are not all that bad. If we draft a tackle who gets replaced? Do we replace Pace and keep Barron? Thats a downgrade if you ask me because Pace is still by far a better tackle than a rookie or Barron at this point. I'm all for re-structuring Pace but getting rid of him seems like we would be opening another hole to fill in the draft. What if Pace can play for another 4 years? Why waste a 2nd pick on a tackle now when we can fill an actual need? It doesnt appear there is this great tackle out there in the draft that screams he will be a staple on the o-line for years to come. It's not clear cut like when the Rams drafted Pace. He was clearly a franchise tackle. I don't see a franchise tackle in the draft. We need interior guys which can be filled in free agency which would free us up to take maybe best player available in the draft.
    Just Fix It

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    If they will still give us that deal, then we need to. It's what is best for this franchise.

    I'm afraid we're going to lose Pace and Holt. They are two of my favorite Rams of all time. But like every player, their time has come.

    If we can get anything like a first or second round pick, it is worth it. A third, I'd be a little skeptical, but we have to see.
    Holt was worth a lot more to Tennessee during the season when they were winning than he would be now.

    Also, the Rams wouldn't be shopping either of them for a third-round pick if there was still an offer on the table for a first rounder. Assuming the Senior Bowl nugget is true, you'd have to think a first or second rounder is probably out of the question right now.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    That's incorrect. The trade offer wasn't for last year's first round pick. The article says the first-round offer came last fall before the mid-season deadline. So it would have been for a 2009 first round pick. If it was Tennessee, then ultimately that pick would have been the 30th overall pick.

    EDIT: That's still a very good offer for Holt, and I'd be tempted to take it. The only bad thing is that you're essentially admitting that you've entered rebuilding mode in October. The Rams fired Linehan on Sept 29th and gave Haslett the interim job. The potential for success in that situation was slim, but trading away your best receiver only further hinders Haslett's chances for success. Depending on how close the offer came to the trading deadline, the Rams' road win over Washington may have tipped the scales in favor of keeping Holt.
    My bad. That almost makes it worse though. Devaney should be waterboarded for passing on that.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Quote Originally Posted by jkramsfan View Post
    I understand what your saying but glorified 2nd rounder or not,you really don't pass on deals like that when you are as bad as the Rams have been.
    I don't know....I have a hard time wrapping my mind around paying a guy with 2nd round talent 1st round money, especially with the Rams' cap problems.

    You also have to ask that if Tennessee had Holt, would their 30th overall have become a 31 or a 32.

    The Rams weren't necessarily out of it at the trade deadline, though, that I agree on. With the Division being absolutely horrible this year, it did seem possible the Rams could come back and win the Division Crown.

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    Re: Sources: Rams were shopping Holt and Pace for third-round pick at Senior Bowl

    Something to consider is that Pace has missed so many games over the past 6-7 years, I believe. He seems to be more prone to injury than most LTs.
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