NFL free agent market slows down
By Jim Thomas03/04/2009
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Now that cornerback Ron Bartell has decided to return to St. Louis, agreeing to a four-year deal, the Rams are two-thirds of the way along in their Killer Bs strategy to open free agency.
Baltimore center Jason Brown signed with the team on Saturday. Bartell agreed on Monday. And James Butler ... ?
Call Butler a work in progress. Talks continue with Kevin and Carl Poston, the agents for Butler, the safety from the New York Giants. Butler has gotten nibbles from the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco ***** but so far has taken no trips.
The Rams remain optimistic they can get a deal done with Butler in what has been a soft safety market so far. On Tuesday, Baltimore safety Jim Leonhard agreed to terms with the New York Jets, but it was for a modest $2 million a year — $6 million over three years.
While Rams executive vice president Kevin Demoff continues to work on the Butler deal, the Rams also were working on the next phase of their free-agent plan, the "second wave" of free agency.
In theory, the market calms down after the first week or so of free agency, meaning players can be signed at more reasonable prices. Trouble is, many of the free agents who appeared to be on the Rams' radar have signed elsewhere.
At wide receiver, Pittsburgh's Nate Washington signed with Tennessee, and Tennessee's Brandon Jones signed with San Francisco. The Rams had talked to agents for both players and there was a time over the weekend when it appeared one or both would be visiting Rams Park.
Two New Orleans receivers could be possibilities for the Rams: deep threat Devery Henderson and restricted free agent Lance Moore. But Moore was tendered at a second-round level, and that's probably too steep a price for the Rams, since they obviously have a high second-round pick.
At defensive tackle, Green Bay's Colin Cole signed with Seattle and San Francisco's Ron Fields signed with Denver. It's believed the Rams had interest in both. It seems a certainty that the Rams would like to add another defensive tackle to the mix with Clifton Ryan and Adam Carriker.
At running back, the shelves are rapidly diminishing. Derrick Ward (Tampa Bay), Fred Taylor (New England), J.J. Arrington (Denver), Correll Buckhalter (Denver), Cedric Benson (Cincinnati), and Maurice Morris (Detroit) are all off the market.
But there are still some options: Tatum Bell, DeShaun Foster, Rudi Johnson, Kevin Jones, Lamont Jordan, Deuce McAllister, Michael Pittman and Dominic Rhodes are all looking for work.
At fullback, Tony Richardson (New York Jets) and Corey McIntyre (Buffalo) re-signed with their clubs, and Detroit's Moran Norris signed with San Francisco. But Heath Evans, Lorenzo Neal, Terrelle Smith and Leonard Weaver remain on the market.
The Rams are known to have at least some interest in Evans and Weaver but don't want to spend a ton of money at the position. Neal has had a great career, but at age 38 may not have much left.
League-wide, there hasn't been a lot of movement on the quarterback market so far. But two sources now have told the Post-Dispatch that the Rams aren't interested in Tampa Bay's Jeff Garcia as a potential No. 2 behind starter Marc Bulger. Quarterbacks such as Byron Leftwich, J.P. Losman, Kyle Boller and Chris Simms remain available.
The Rams also are exploring their options for a backup tight end. The team has talked about bringing in San Francisco's Billy Bajema for a role as a blocking tight end, but no visit has been set yet. Bajema visited the New York Jets on Tuesday.
And what about the all-important offensive tackle position? The best guys are gone. Jordan Gross re-signed with Carolina just before the start of free agency. Vernon Carey re-signed with Miami; Cincinnati's Stacey Andrews went to Philadelphia; and Jon Stinchcomb re-signed with New Orleans.
Re: NFL free agent market slows down
Lets go Lorenzo Neal baby!!!!1