NOTES, QUOTES

LT Orlando Pace was released by the Rams on Tuesday, just hours after The Sports Xchange reported that Pace and WR Torry Holt, both under contract for 2009, had not receive a letter sent by the Rams to players invited to the offseason conditioning program.

Pace would have counted $8.975 million against the cap: $5.975 million in base salary and $3 million in prorated signing bonus. He had two years remaining on his deal with salaries of $7.175 million in 2010 and $8.375 million in 2011. However, because of the way the contract was structured, this is the final year of prorated bonus due so there will be no additional acceleration with his release. His departure will save the Rams $6.0 million in cap space.

"I can't begin to thank Orlando for all he has meant to the Rams organization, since we selected him with the first overall pick in the 1997 draft," said Rams Owner/Chairman Chip Rosenbloom. "It is never easy to end a relationship that has had as much success as ours, but in the best interest of Orlando and the Rams, we feel now is the right time. As a Super Bowl Champion and seven-time Pro Bowler, he has been a true professional and will always go down as one of the finest Rams of all time. We wish him, Carla and their children the very best as they move onto the next chapter of their football journey."

C Jason Brown's agents and the Rams are working to adjust the contract signed by the free-agent center after it was disapproved by the league.

The problem with the original contract centers on a $2.3 million buyback in the deal for the final season. The deal voids after four years if certain performance levels and team accomplishments are reached, but the Rams can buy back that final year for $2.3 million.

However, new rules in the NFL that are part of the last year with a salary cap mandates that salaries can't increase by more than 30 percent of the first-year total. Brown will be paid $4 million in salary/roster bonus this season, so no increase in future years can be greater than $1.2 million from the previous year.

Brown's salary in 2012 is $5 and $6.2 million in 2013, the final year of the contract. If the buyback is exercised, his final-year compensation would be $8.5 million, an increase of $3.5 million from the year before.

Cornerback Ron Bartell, who re-signed with the Rams four days after becoming an unrestricted free agent, took the time to fly to St. Louis from his Arizona winter home after Steve Spagnuolo was hired as head coach so he could get a feel for the new coach and his staff.

Said Bartell, "I had just wanted to come in and meet the coaches that I was considering playing for. You don't want to make a decision without meeting someone. That's just the way I saw it. I came in and they were very busy but I was impressed with the way he just dropped everything to make time. We had a great conversation. Actually right in the middle of the weight room, we spoke for about 15 or 20 minutes. Then, he took me around and introduced me to the rest of the staff. That was big for me.

"We talked about life and the philosophy of life. We didn't even talk about football. We struck up a great rapport."

Spagnuolo was also impressed, but for a different reason, during that meeting.

He said, "It's a little thing, but he talked about when we met in the weight room and when I walked in there, I was just going through to do some work, he had a hat on and the minute I went over there, he took it off. There aren't a lot of young people now a days that do that and that just stuck out and then of course talking to him for 15 or 20 minutes, I could realize this is a quality guy and you don't let quality people get out of the building. That's a little thing and I think those are the little things that separate average people from great people."

Bartell's contract was reported to be worth $28 million over four years, but it will only be that much if he reaches incentives in the deal.

The contract signed by center Jason Brown is worth $24 million over the first three years and his $20 million in guarantees will be paid in the first two years with $15 million this year. That includes an $11 million signing bonus, a $3 million roster bonus and $1 million base salary for 2009.

Linebacker Will Witherspoon is visiting U.S. troops at military bases throughout the Persian Gulf along with Vikings defensive end Jared Allen, Giants linebacker Danny Clark and Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Witherspoon, who describes himself as "an Air Force brat," is the son of a retired military officer who was stationed abroad, and he spent part of his childhood living in Germany and England and speaks German. His uncle also spent his career in the Air Force.

Shortly before the trip, he became a father for the third time. While the group was in Washington, D.C/. waiting for their flight to Kuwait, Witherspoon said, "I have a lot going on right now. I packed at 4:00 am after I was up with our newborn. I figured that as long as I threw some underwear in a bag, I would be OK. But I wasn't going to pass on the opportunity to make this trip."

QUOTE TO NOTE: "Here I was a second-round draft pick, and I had not had one conversation with the previous general manager (Jay Zygmunt). Not one. How do you have a GM that doesn't even speak to the players? I've been one of the core players and I didn't even talk to the man. And when the top is not in order, it trickles from the top of the team down." CB Ron Bartell on how communication has changed in the Rams' front office.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

TEAM NEEDS/OFFSEASON STRATEGY

After re-signing CB Ron Bartell, the Rams would still like to get a long-term deal done with S Oshiomogho Atogwe, who currently has the franchise tag. Center Jason Brown should upgrade the line. The Rams still are looking for a veteran backup quarterback and possibly a fullback. Strong safety James Butler (Giants) reported signed a four-year deal.

There are also several key decisions to be made in regards to veterans with large cap numbers. LT Orlando Pace ($9 million salary/$6 cap number) was released, and WR Torry Holt ($10.2 million) may not be far behind.


TEAM NEEDS

1. Tackle: With LT Orlando Pace released 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. 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.

3. Wide receiver: If Torry Holt, the Rams will have no veteran presence at the position.

MEDICAL WATCH: No updates.


FRANCHISE PLAYER: S Oshiomogho Atogwe: Tendered at $6.342M.

TRANSITION PLAYER: None.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

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. Unlikely to be re-signed.

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 teased 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, as the position was upgraded with the signing of Jason Brown.

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.

UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered)

OG Mark Setterstrom (not tendered as RFA) has played just three games in two seasons because of two knee injuries. His rehab is going well, and could be re-signed for the minimum salary of $535,000.

RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS

DE Victor Adeyanju (tendered at $1.01M with fourth-round pick as compensation) has showed steady progress in his three seasons, and he is needed for depth on the line.

OG Richie Incognito (tendered at $1.01M with third-round pick as compensation) has ability, but has to curb his emotions during games. The question is whether he's worth a $1 million tender.

EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS: None.

PLAYERS RE-SIGNED

CB Ron Bartell: UFA; $25M/4 yrs, $4.1M SB/$8.6M base guarantees; 2009 cap: $5.35M.

QB Brock Berlin: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

LB Quinton Culberson: Potential ERFA; 1 yr, terms unknown.

PLAYERS ACQUIRED

C Jason Brown: UFA Ravens; $37.5M/5 yrs, $11M SB/$9M base guarantees; 2009 cap: $6.2M.

PLAYERS LOST

WR Drew Bennett (released).

S Corey Chavous (released).

QB Trent Green (released/failed physical).