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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    PD: Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy

    Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy
    4 hours ago • By Jim Thomas

    One of the major themes at Rams Park this offseason is developing all those draft picks piled up in the past two years, not making a big splash in free agency.

    “When you look at free agency, this is the year we’ve targeted probably to be a little less active ... than others,” Rams executive vice president Kevin Demoff said.

    Then again, the Rams basically have said they’re not going wild in free agency every March since coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead joined forces with Demoff in 2012.

    The results?

    • The Rams invested a potential $96.5 million worth of contracts in free-agent pickups Cortland Finnegan, Scott Wells, and Kendall Langford in the first week of 2012 free agency. (Finnegan was told last week he’s being released.)

    • In 2013, they invested a potential $79.4 million in free-agent pickups Jake Long and Jared Cook, and in re-signing William Hayes.

    That’s not exactly Dan Snyder throwing dollars around like Monopoly money, as he did in days gone by in Washington, but it’s still a lot of money.

    This time, it does sound like the Rams mean it when saying they’ll be less active in free agency.

    “Our biggest ‘need’ is continuing to let our young guys develop and get experience,” Snead said. “There’s no glaring, glaring, glaring needs per se (on the roster). And then we have nine picks in the draft, and some good picks. And it’s a good draft. So you’re aware of that.”

    As for free agency ....

    “If there’s someone who can help us, who can fill a role, we’ll still explore that,” Demoff said.

    The Rams did some “exploring” on Saturday, the first of the three-day negotiating period that serves as a prelude to the official start of free agency on Tuesday.

    With clubs careful not to step over the line and risk tampering charges, not much information leaks out during the three-day window. But to no one’s surprise, the Rams did contact the agent for Tennessee cornerback Alterraun Verner on Saturday, according to league sources.

    It’s only natural considering Verner was drafted by Fisher in 2010 in Tennessee and played for several current Rams assistants there. In addition, new Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was with Verner last year in Tennessee and spoke glowingly about him last month during his introductory news conference in St. Louis.

    But the Rams have far from a clear playing field on Verner. The Tennessean in Nashville reported that Detroit, Minnesota, the New York Giants, New York Jets and Pittsburgh also made inquiries.

    One possible alternative for the Rams if they don’t sign Verner was swept off the market Saturday night when cornerback Sam Shields re-signed with Green Bay. Initial reports of contract terms were an eye-opening four years and $39 million, with a $12.5 million signing bonus. But full details, such as the amount of guaranteed money, weren’t immediately available.

    (Teams can re-sign their own players at any time in the offseason; free agents signing with new teams must wait until Tuesday.)

    Teams usually have to pay a little extra to keep a player off the market. Even so, Shield’s average per year of $9.75 million doesn’t bode well for getting Verner at a semi-reasonable price.

    There also were reports that the Rams contacted the agent of Buffalo safety and former Clayton High star Jairus Byrd, a surprising development because all signs at Rams Park were that the team was not going to make a strong push for him. And that could still be the case.

    To no one’s surprise, there were reports that Miami contacted the representatives of Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold.

    The Dolphins have a lot of rebuilding to do on their offensive line after the bullying scandal of last season involving Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin. Arizona, the New York Jets and Tampa Bay all need help at guard, and Arizona is looking for help at tackle. So all could be potential Saffold suitors.

    Teams will make a lot of calls this weekend, but with varying degrees of interest. And sometimes, the early calls are made for players not considered front-line talent. For example, four teams expressed interest in guard Shelley Smith, a spot starter in his two seasons in St. Louis. The Rams are believed to have only modest interest in re-signing Smith.

    The Rams obviously have much interest in re-signing Saffold, a second-round draft pick by the team in 2010.

    “There’s no benefit in being the youngest team in the NFL if you’re just going to develop them for somebody else,” Demoff said, speaking generally.

    “We could be very active Day 1 (of free agency),” he continued. “Or we could decide there’s nothing that really fits our overall strategy. I think all of that depends on how the three-day negotiating period really goes. We have a lot of different strategies, a lot of different paths.

    Even if the Rams don’t sign a “splash” player in the first week of free agency, Snead said there are less “sexy” free agents who can help a club. He cited Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar as one example from 2012. Defensive end Hayes, also signed in 2012, is another.

    “From the entertainment standpoint, the world focuses on the marquee names,” Snead said. “In reality, there’s 400 players hitting the market and a lot of those players have a lot of experience and can come in and help you.”

  2. #2
    kman is offline Registered User
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    Re: PD: Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy

    they might get verner, but not byrd

  3. #3
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    Re: PD: Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy

    We have 9 picks in the draft? I figured we had 8 after adding Washington's 1st pick.

  4. #4
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    Re: PD: Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy

    Quote Originally Posted by kman View Post
    they might get verner, but not byrd
    why not byrd?

  5. #5
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    Re: PD: Rams don't expect a free-agent frenzy

    Quote Originally Posted by FestusRam View Post
    We have 9 picks in the draft? I figured we had 8 after adding Washington's 1st pick.
    Two in the 1st and 7th, thanks to Josh Gordy we have the Colts 7th. Projections also have us at a 6th and 3 7ths for compensation picks.

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