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  1. #1
    Rambos's Avatar
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    Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Thursday, March 2, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    Since the Rams moved to St. Louis it has been an offseason custom to being anew with the search for a right tackle. But, the Rams finally seemed to solve that issue last year when they drafted Alex Barron in the first round.

    In addition, it has also been a ritual to have to deal with the ongoing negotiations with left tackle Orlando Pace. That’s another problem that was solved in the last offseason when Pace finally signed a long-term contract.

    With the bookends of the offensive line taken care of, the Rams must now turn their attention to an aging interior of the offensive line. Rookie Claude Terrell showed promise last year and will probably land the starting left guard job, especially assuming that Tom Nütten retires as expected.

    That leaves the Doughnut Bros., center Andy McCollum and right guard Adam Timmerman as the other returning starters on the line. McCollum signed a two-year extension near the end of the season that will likely allow him to retire a Ram. Timmerman also remains under contract.

    While both still have plenty of fight, they are also aware that the end is closer than the beginning. With that in mind, the Rams have plenty of young talent that could potentially be the replacements. Richie Incognito is one player the previous staff had high hopes for. His status with the new staff remains in question, though, as he continues to rehab his knee injury. When healthy, he is the type that could slide in at a guard spot or even center and become a top-tier player.

    Aside from Incognito, the Rams have Blaine Saipaia, Ben Noll, Larry Turner and Drew Strojny on the roster. Noll and Saipaia might have potential at guard and Turner could be a possible center.

    However, there are still a few needs that must be filled. While getting younger on the interior is a priority and there are some top names available including New Orleans’ center LeCharles Bentley and Seattle guard Steve Hutchinson, it’s unlikely the Rams will spend the big money required to get them. If the Rams decide to go in that direction, it’s more likely they will go after a young player with less experience who could be had for cheap. Toniu Fonoti and Terrence Metcalf fall into that category.

    Another serious need is the one for a third tackle. If the season started today, the third tackle would probably be Blaine Saipaia or Incognito. Saipaia has struggled there in the past and is better suited for guard.

    There are a few possibilities on the free agent market, including Ephraim Salaam and Victor Rogers. Rex Tucker is a free agent and isn’t likely to be brought back. The Rams cut ties Thursday with exclusive rights free agent tackle Matt Morgan.

    Offensive Linemen Under Contract: Orlando Pace, Alex Barron, Adam Timmerman, Blaine Saipaia, Andy McCollum, Richie Incognito, Claude Terrell, Ben Noll, Drew Strojny, Larry Turner.
    Free Agents: Tom Nütten, Rex Tucker
    Needs: Timmerman and McCollum are warriors, but they aren’t getting any younger. The Rams could use a boost on the interior in the form of a “young veteran,” someone with experience but still with plenty of tread on the tires. St. Louis also needs a third tackle to back up Barron and Pace.
    Possibilities: LeCharles Bentley, Toniu Fonoti, Terrence Metcalf, Grey Ruegamer.

    Top Five Available
    1. G Steve Hutchinson (Transition Tag)
    2. T Jon Runyan
    3. C LeCharles Bentley
    4. T Jeff Backus (Franchised)
    5. T Brad Hopkins


  2. #2
    chiguy's Avatar
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Smart teams regularly bring in young players for the offensive line. It's the one position you can't ever let get shallow or weak on offense. Our draft last year was a step in the right direction, but I'd like to see us get some more young depth in the worst way.

  3. #3
    RAMarkable is offline Registered User
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Well said, Chiguy, and the Rams need some legitimate backup tackles; not guards like Saipaia and Tucker playing out of position.

    WHAT SAY YE?

  4. #4
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    I don't mind Saipaia, especially when he gets to play on the interior. He doesn't embarass himself. But we haven't had any depth at tackle for a long time. Considering that our TEs can't seem to block pass rushers or pick-up blitzes, that's a particularly glaring problem.

  5. #5
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    Re: Free Agent Preview: Offensive Line

    Please Bentley! Sign with the Rams!
    RamsFan16

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