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    Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Addressing Needs Not Easy
    Friday, February 22, 2008
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    INDIANAPOLIS – On the heels of a difficult 2007 season, the Rams had no choice but to make some changes.

    Piece by piece and week by week they have made those changes and now they are entering what could be the most important phase of all.

    “There has been a lot of change on our staff and within our personnel department and those are almost 100 per cent complete,” coach Scott Linehan said. “They have given us a new approach and certainly a positive approach to the 2008 season. I think all of these changes are positive changes and will give us a lot of momentum going into this draft class and what there is in free agency.”

    Indeed, the Rams made seven changes to the coaching staff, including the addition of offensive coordinator Al Saunders and added Billy Devaney as the Executive Vice President of Player Personnel.

    With those moves made and everything in place, the onus now falls to the roster, where perhaps the most important work needs to be done.

    Devaney has spent the past week or so since he was hired getting up to speed on what’s already in place and catching up to what the team’s needs are. Of course, he also watched as team after team placed the franchise tag on the best free agents available.

    With free agency just days away, Devaney, Linehan and the Rams will face some important decisions. The salary cap has been set at $116 million for 2008 and the Rams have more than $109 million committed not including the expected tender offer to free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe which could come in at just under $2 million.

    In other words, the Rams don’t have much room to work with to improve a roster that was decimated by injuries and features nine players occupying the bulk of the cap space.

    It also means that in the next week or so, Linehan and Co. will have some tough decisions to make on possible cuts and other areas that could give them some salary cap breathing room.

    “We have been meeting,” Linehan said. “Those decisions are tough. We were a 3-13 team and we have had to make a lot of adjustments and they started with coaching and moved to personnel and now it’s kind of the players’ turn. We are probably going to have to make a couple of tough decisions if we are going to free up any cap space.”

    The Rams’ most glaring needs were obvious to most that followed the team. After getting Devaney up to speed, the clear consensus is that the team needs to improve the most on both sides of the line.

    “I think we really need to address some things on our offensive front,” Linehan said. “A lot of them were injuries, but when you look at it there are some things there that need to be addressed whether we do it by staying healthy, by adding some players that could potentially help us. We have some young players that played for us at the end of the 06 season that actually ended up getting hurt for us last year. I think that’s an area we definitely need to address.”

    There’s no doubt the Rams will need to get healthy on the offensive line with the anticipated return of Orlando Pace at left tackle and guards Mark Setterstrom and Richie Incognito from season ending injuries.

    Still, there are question marks abound as the Rams search for a starting center with Brett Romberg and Andy McCollum due for free agency and possibly not returning. Linehan and Devaney both mentioned the need to find at least one interior lineman capable of starting in the coming weeks and months.

    One way to save some money for the cap could be to part ways with some of the excess linemen left over from last season. Although they don’t make major dollars, some of the backups that played in 2007 could be shown the door to make room for others.

    On the defensive line, Linehan expressed disappointment with the lack of pressure placed on the quarterback, particularly from defensive ends. The Rams ends combined for 4.5 sacks in 2007.

    After watching the New York Giants win the Super Bowl behind a dominant front four, Linehan says it’s obvious that needs to be corrected.

    “I think getting to the quarterback on those money downs is going to be critical whether we do it through a free agent acquisition or getting Leonard (Little) healthy or whatever we have got to do, I think we have to find ways to create that pass rush like you saw for example with that Giants team that created the rush,” Linehan said. “I think that’s something you have got to be able to do.”

    Finding an impact end doesn’t seem possible in free agency given the franchise tags that went to Kansas City’s Jared Allen, among others. Making matters worse is that the Rams best pass rusher (Little) is coming off toe surgery that limited him to seven games and one sack in 2007.

    Little is due to count around $9 million against the cap in 2008 and the Rams are exploring ways to lower that number. Little is expected to be in St. Louis next week for an update on his toe and that could go a long way in determining his future according to Linehan.

    Other decisions that could prove difficult involve receiver Isaac Bruce, who is due a cap number around $5 million this season.

    Those are just two examples of the tough decisions the Rams will make in the coming days.

    “It’s going to come to a head as to what our options are whether there is a restructuring opportunity or anything,” Linehan said. “I don’t even know that yet. I don’t know what’s realistic or not at this point.”

    Another key factor entering the player stage of the offseason is where Devaney factors in. The Rams have given Devaney authority to have a major say in all personnel moves and he is just now getting caught up on where the Rams stand.

    Already, he has given the Rams and Linehan a different perspective on what’s already in place.

    “We are catching Billy up to speed with where we are that way and also he is assessing our roster,” Linehan said. “It’s interesting. You see yourself in a certain way but then you look at your roster from that vantage point as someone that is coming from another team not only as a personnel person but also somebody that has played us.”

    One thing is for sure, no matter how much salary cap room the Rams clear, it might not make much of a difference as far as adding impact players in free agency. Simply put, the market is bare unless you want to overpay for mediocrity (with a few exceptions).

    “We talked about that today,” Devaney said. “There were non-starters on teams that got the franchise tender this year. That’s because the pool is so small. There will be a small amount of players that will get a ridiculous amount of money and people will say ‘You have got to be kidding me.’ I think it’s smart to tie up their guys. Each year the number of players gets smaller and smaller and smaller. It will be more difficult (for us).”


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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Simply put, the market is bare unless you want to overpay for mediocrity (with a few exceptions).
    And this is why I don't think we will cut Bruce. For what who will we get that will have more of an impact. Redo Little's deal and draft well. Lets gets healthy.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by Rambos View Post
    And this is why I don't think we will cut Bruce. For what who will we get that will have more of an impact. Redo Little's deal and draft well. Lets gets healthy.
    Well said. We do need to resign Bruce. If an offseason need is a receiver, why lose one of our good ones and have to sign TWO receivers?

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Bruce even at an old age can still put up 60catches 1000 yards and 5 tds a year...


    That is still very solid for a number 2 , number 3 receiver. We do not need to release bruce or little. If Little can get healthy there is our pass rusher we were looking for.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce4life View Post
    Bruce even at an old age can still put up 60catches 1000 yards and 5 tds a year...


    That is still very solid for a number 2 , number 3 receiver. We do not need to release bruce or little. If Little can get healthy there is our pass rusher we were looking for.
    Exactly. We could then pursue Jake Long and sign a DLinesmen in the second round.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Exactly. We could then pursue Jake Long and sign a DLinesmen in the second round.
    No offense dude, but this team was 3-13. The Rams need to part with these guys if they won't take a cut. Bruce, Little, Chavous, Glover and the Hall's are stealing money from the team. Standing pat and drafting Jake Long isn't enough, IMO.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by bruce4life View Post
    If Little can get healthy there is our pass rusher we were looking for.
    Not quite. Even if we manage to restructure Little, we still need a dominant pass rushing DE opposite of him. We needed that desperately in last year's draft. We had our choice of some great DE prospects and we failed to pull the trigger, taking Leonard instead. I like Leonard, but I would have preferred to have gotten that DE position firmed up then.

    So, we still need a top tier DE. If we aren't able to restructure Little, then we will need another one to replace him.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by Mooselini View Post
    Exactly. We could then pursue Jake Long and sign a DLinesmen in the second round.
    Jake Long would probably not be worth the second pick, and he wouldn't be an impact player. If Pace and Barron were healthy, I wouldn't want him sitting on the bench. Chris Long is a safe pick, and the top DE of the draft. If Little got hurt again, we would be in big trouble. That is why we need C. Long to have a pass rushing force of the future; it is to hard to pick up quality DEs these days, especially with the money they demand. Get Bruce and Little to restructure, but we may be able to trade away Little. We may be able to place Carriker at end though he just played a year on the interior, and that would be a last resort. I would say keep him at DT and pick up C. Long and another D linemen. I think we should go after a tackle in the second round, the guy from Vanderbilt (I believe his name is Chris Williams) seems like a good pick, and was pointed out by Avenger. I saw something about him online, and I hope he is available or another quality tackle by round 2. We can then go SS/CB, depending on who's left, then D and O line all the way, with possibly drafting a 3rd string QB in round 7.
    Last edited by prof22693; -02-26-2008 at 08:03 PM.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Since it sounds like we aren't going to do much in fee agency, hopefully we can redo Bruces & Littles contract, get health, and draft well.

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    Re: Wagoner: Addressing Needs Not Easy

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    Addressing Needs Not Easy
    Friday, February 22, 2008
    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    INDIANAPOLIS – On the heels of a difficult 2007 season, the Rams had no choice but to make some changes.

    Piece by piece and week by week they have made those changes and now they are entering what could be the most important phase of all.

    With free agency just days away, Devaney, Linehan and the Rams will face some important decisions. The salary cap has been set at $116 million for 2008 and the Rams have more than $109 million committed not including the expected tender offer to free safety Oshiomogho Atogwe which could come in at just under $2 million.

    In other words, the Rams don’t have much room to work with to improve a roster that was decimated by injuries and features nine players occupying the bulk of the cap space.

    It also means that in the next week or so, Linehan and Co. will have some tough decisions to make on possible cuts and other areas that could give them some salary cap breathing room.

    “We have been meeting,” Linehan said. “Those decisions are tough. We were a 3-13 team and we have had to make a lot of adjustments and they started with coaching and moved to personnel and now it’s kind of the players’ turn. We are probably going to have to make a couple of tough decisions if we are going to free up any cap space.”
    We are getting into the scary part of changes that we may not like. The roster is under the microscope now.

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