Caution: Some of the following content looks old but there are questions that come up over and over again and this was dated today.
Dejan: 1. First of all, what are our next moves in free agency? Who does Spagnuolo and Billy like most as our next candidates? 2. Are the Rams interested in Dré Bly, Jermaine Phillips (if deal with Butler goes down maybe)? 3. Is it possible for the Rams to sign WR's Washington and Brandon Jones infree agency? Would this signings mean an end for Holt? (HOPE NOT) 4. I know this chat is about free agency, but I would like to see the Rams drafting in second round RB from Ohio State, Beanie Wells. Do you see that as possible?
Jim Thomas: 1.) The Rams are still working on Butler; after that they regroup and start working on the second wave. 2.) Rams do have some interest in Phillips if Butler falls through, but I don't think they have any in Bly. 3.) Washington has signed with the Titans; Jones with the *****. I think Holt is gone no matter what. 4.) It's doubtful Beanie Wells will be there in the second round.
jimmy: The Rams need to add a vet WR, with guys like Bryant Johnson, Brandon Jones and maybe Coles off the market. Who could we be looking at?
Jim Thomas: The list is shrinking, that's for sure. Devery Henderson from the Saints could be one possibility.
Gman: The Rams need to make some very important decisions on Alex Barron. If they would look at his tape when he played LT for a year, they would see that he is better at LT than he is at RT. He is the prototypical LT, with the big frame, long arms and good footwork necessary to play that side. In addition, he made fewer mistakes on that side and seemed more motivated as well. I think it is a mistake to assume that a good LT should automatically be good on the right side; they are two different positions that require different attributes. So what do you think: Is Alex Barron the LT of the future? Should they lock him up with a long-term deal now, before he gets too expensive (e.g. Ron Bartell)?
Jim Thomas: I think the Rams are considering the possibility of trying Barron at LT. That of course depends on a lot of other moves, namely, do they take a tackle at No. 2 overall? Barron hasn't really progressed much in his time here. I don't think the Rams are anywhere near thinking about him as a long-term solution at RT or LT.
Gman: I keep hearing talk about moving Witherspoon to WLB, because he is undersized to play in the middle. Is that true? He's 240 lbs, which is the same weight, or slightly heavier than Jon Beason, Antonio Pierce, Mike Peterson, Paul Posluzny, Lofa Tatupu and many other excellent starting MLBs. Tinoisamoa is the same size (6-1, 240 lbs.) as Witherspoon. If they want to move Witherspoon because his best position is WLB, why not give Pisa a shot at the middle? Or how about Culberson? Do you think that they have enough quality LBs on the squad already and should address other areas instead?
Jim Thomas: Listed roster weights (and heights) are often misleading. Pisa, for example, actually weighs about 220-225. I think Witherspoon is closer to 230 than 240. Culberson was a disappointment last year on the strong side, losing his starting job to Chris Draft. It's my sense that the front office wants to upgrade the linebacker position. (Out of all the LBs on the roster, Draft is probably the best suited to play MLB.)
Rams' 'Homer': How do you think Charlie Batch would do as a backup/"kick in the pants"?
Jim Thomas: I don't think Bulger would feel too threatened by Charlie Batch.
Dan from Honolulu: So does the Jason Brown signing (whoopee) signal the end/peak of the Rams' veteran signings? Tell you the truth, I'm not as thrilled as everyone else seems to be. Brown is a largely unproven commodity, and he's got flop written all over him in my eyes. How does the Brown signing affect the Rams' draft strategy in the first three or four rounds if anything?
Jim Thomas: I'm guessing you filed this before the Bartell signing. I'm curious, why do you think this has flop written all over it? The guy has been durable and dependable. And he was certainly well known by other teams. Baltimore offered him $6.25 million to stay; Philly, Washington and Miami were very interested in him. We'll see what happens once the games start, but it was an upset for the Rams to land this guy. He was widely regarded as one of the top players, regardless of position, available in the draft. As for draft strategy, had the Rams not signed Brown (or a center), I think they might have seriously targeted the position in the second round of the draft. They now have the flexibility to look elsewhere in Round 2.
vanessa stewart: Will the Rams make a run for Ray Lewis, or Julius Peppers?
Jim Thomas: Don't think so.
Kevin: I know that parting ways with Pace would save a good amount of cap space, but I think if we release him we force ourselves into a situation where we have to draft an OT second overall instead of going after the best player, Aaron Curry. MLB is also a need for us and I'd really like to see Curry as a Ram. If we do get rid of Pace, do you see the Rams going any other direction than tackle with the pick?
Jim Thomas: That would seem to be the case. There's not a lot of options remaining in free agency at tackle. But there is a scenario where the Rams could take Curry at No. 2, and then go tackle in the second round. Under that scenario, they might switch Barron to left tackle and then start the rookie second-rounder at right tackle.
Eli: One question, do you think the Rams will go after Lance Moore, the wide receiver from the Saints? Last season he had 79 receptions for 928 yards and 10 TDs!
Jim Thomas: Well, keep an eye on this one. But generally, this isn't the kind of move you jump out on early. You wait until April, near the end of the restricted free agent period, before you make this move. (Thus letting the Saints, or whatever club it might be, spend more of their money in March, etc.)
marctheram: What are the chances that the Rams will give Jeff Garcia a serious look as a free agency QB pick-up?
Jim Thomas: I'm not going to kiss and tell in terms of sources. But someone who's close to Garcia said over the weekend that he hadn't heard from the Rams. And someone in the building here at Rams Park said the team wasn't interested. Could that change? Possibly. Maybe Garcia is looking for a starting job. Maybe the Rams know at this point that he's asking too much money. Maybe Shurmur didn't like him. I don't know. But in theory, it sure seemed to make a lot of sense.
bfulton: I'm confused. I hear all this talk about how salary-cap prohibitive it is to trade or cut big-ticket players, but NE trades two big-ticket players for just a second-round pick because it helps them on the cap. What's the truth? Secondly, if not Green or Garcia, who are the Rams targeting for the backup QB slot? Berlin?!?
Jim Thomas: I'm sure the Chiefs will restructure Cassel's contract to help them cap-wise. Since Cassel was working as a franchise tag player, the one-year tender, there was no negative cap ramifications to trading him. As for Vrabel, I'm not familiar with his contract. One name I've heard in the hallways at Rams Park is Gus Frerotte. But it could be just gossip. I've gotten no real confirmation that the Rams are seriously interested, which is why I haven't written about it in the paper or blogged it.
BlackNailed: What about Billy Bajema?
Jim Thomas: He's no Boo Williams.
Ram101: Looks like the center position was where the football guys thought we needed to start, not to say that I told you so but I told you so, OT is not as bad as the middle of the line is, providing they don't trade Big O. Now, you saw J Smith and Monroe at the combine ... do you feel after seeing them both work out that J Smith is the one closest to being NFL ready, and have you heard anything about B J Raji being in the mix for the No. 2 pick?
Jim Thomas: There are some at Rams Park who like Jason Smith better at this point, thinking that he's more physical than Monroe. There are some at Rams Park who like Eugene Monroe better at this point, thinking that he's more athletic. Monroe is probably more NFL ready. J. Smith is still new to the position. As for Raji, don't rule him out as a first-round pick for the Rams. It's not as if anyone in the building has told me the Rams are interested. But he's certainly a top 10 pick, and the Rams do need another body at DT.
Kiefer Williams: I have a few questions for you. The first is regarding the Jason Brown press conference. Is there anywhere that I can watch it? The second would be about Fred Robbins, DT Giants. I was wondering, because I have heard he may be released, if the Rams will pursue him to stick inside on a rotation with Carriker and Ryan, considering Spagnuolo's relationship with the Giants. Also, are there any updates on Holt or Pace? Any teams interested? I would love for Pace to restructure and return at a lesser price to open up drafting Curry with the second pick, and take the best possible OT in the second round. There is a rumor on the boards in the chat room that talks may have come up about a possible Bulger and the No. 2 pick for Cutler and the No. 12. I don't see this happening at all for cap reasons and many others. I heard that the Saints offered Bartell a contract, but that the Rams also have an offer up. Do you have any insight about how much either of the contracts are for? And finally, do you know about any upcoming visits the Rams have scheduled?
Jim Thomas: The Rams do want to add a DT; I don't know much about Robbins, but due to the Spagnuolo tie-in, it makes sense if he's released. No updates on Pace and Holt; but again, I would be surprised if either player is back. I really don't see the fascination with Cutler. He throws a lot of interceptions. As to the Saints' and Rams' contracts on Bartell, see my newspaper story in Tuesday's P-D. The offers apparently were pretty similar.
DanishRam: How would you rate the signing of Jason Brown was it a good price or did the Rams overpay?
Jim Thomas: Sure, they overpaid. That's what happens in the first week to 10 days of free agency. But I do know this: A lot of teams were interested in the guy.
Nick: Dan Pompei wrote in the Chicago Tribune that Eugene Monroe will be red flagged by some NFL teams because medical testing at the NFL combine revealed what Pompei only referred to as "knee issues." Have you heard anything more about this, and do you know if the Rams are one of the teams that are concerned about Monroe's knees? Or is this just another instance of pre-draft misinformation being put out there to try and get a guy to slip a bit?
Jim Thomas: The Rams obviously were privvy to all of the medical info at the draft. To the best of my knowledge, they are still very interested in Monroe.
BE13.DROOPY: Do you think we're going to get Curry in the draft? I think he would make our defense better. Also, what's up with Bartell? Are we going to get him back, and James Butler, I think we should get him. He already knows Spag's defense and would only help our defense to learn quicker. Final thing, Jason Brown said he thinks our team will be better than a .500 team. Is he just really confident or do you think we have a chance of being that good?
Jim Thomas: Right now, I think you'd have to say that Curry would be a strong consideration for the Rams in the draft. But let's see what happens with the rest of free agency leading up to the draft and how that might shape things. As for reaching .500, I think it will take more than signing Brown, and re-signing Bartell, to get there.
Ed in Vancouver: Who do you see the Lions taking with the first pick in the draft? I really believe the Lions will mess us up by taking J-Smooth, Jason Smith, OT Baylor. Reason being, at the end of the day teams build around QB/LT/DE. Thus we're forced to take E. Monroe. I hope we get J-Smooth he's the cornerstone piece we need. Do you agree/disagree, or thoughts?
Jim Thomas: Who knows about the Lions, particularly with a new regime in there in terms of coach and front office? I'd say their three options at this point are QB, OT and LB. Even if they take J. Smith, the Rams would still have Monroe or Curry as options.
Roger Cromwell: So far I like what I see with free agency. I do hope we just trade the big contract guys and get down the road rebuilding for the future. My question is this. Do you think Chip would keep this team if he turned it around by putting his personal stamp on it? I, for one, hope he does. I used to be at the games in LA when I was a kid and still miss his dad's leadership. Perhaps he's a chip off the old block ! Thanks for taking our questions.
Jim Thomas: I think more success on the field would help convince Chip to continue owning the team. But the stadium issue is real. And eventually not right away, but eventually the estate taxes could be a problem.
biggame1190: Do you know if the Rams have looked into Sean Jones, the SS from the Browns? His stats look really good. Do you see the Rams bringing this guy in as a Plan B if we don't Butler signed?
Jim Thomas: I'm not aware that the Rams have contacted Jones. But I do think he and Jermaine Phillips (Tampa Bay) are possible "Plan Bs" if the Rams don't sign Butler.
ljramsfan: Two words: Tyler Thigpen. I thought he would be a good backup here in STL since they have Matt Cassel now in KC. He is mobile, exciting, and familiar with the new QB coach Dick Curl. A lot of people knock him because his team was 2-14, but there was no evidence that was his fault.
Jim Thomas: It would have to be a trade because Thigpen isn't a free agent.
frankelsigep: What have you heard about signing a backup QB? Any chance it would be Chris Simms? He showed some promise before getting hurt with the Bucs and is still young enough to be our QB of the future, when Bulger loses his nerve or gets destroyed by someone Barron forgot to block.
Jim Thomas: I think guys like Boller (Brown's gun-shy remarks notwitstanding), Losman and Simms all should be worth a look. Particularly, Boller and Losman because they have some starting experience. They could at least be guys you could play for a game or two if Bulger gets hurt while you develop a young QB (draft pick).
lloydsugarbear: My question is simple. Do you think that maybe we can draft the kid Curry and the LB Brinkley from SC he is 6-2 and 250 plus and runs a 4.6 40 in the first two rounds? Put him in the middle and then Curry at SLB side with Spoon on the WLB, and we are set at LB for years. Or do you think that is overkill on that position? I feel that this position has been ignored for years by the Rams. You think it's possible for them to get a second-rounder for Pace and maybe a third-rounder for Holt? Also, do you think Philly would be interested in either one of them to make a trade offer to the Rams? I am a LB at heart and just want LB's on this team remember, I wanted the Carpenter kid last year. Heck, I would take the MLB from Ohio State in the second round. I feel we need to upgrade this position, period, and this is a good LB class and a chance for the Rams to upgrade.
Jim Thomas: With needs at a lot of positions, drafting 2 LBs in the first two rounds could be overkill. At this point, I think second- or third-rounder might be high on either player. I think Philly is looking to get younger at tackle. But if they're stymied in their attempts to do so, I guess it's not out of the question that they might make a run at Pace.
dominic: 1)Did the Rams make an offer to Ron Fields? If so, what is the latest? 2)Would you trade our 1st to Cleveland for their 1st and 2nd because they really, really want Curry? I love him as a player, but we need more good players instead of one. Your thoughts? 3)And since your gut tells you that Orlando is going, does this mean we draft a tackle No. 1?
Jim Thomas: 1.) Fields signed with Denver. 2.) Sure, I'd make that deal. Curry, both OTs, Crabtree and Raji can't all be gone by No. 5. 3.) It's looking more and more like an OT at No. 2, but again, the Rams could still take a tackle in the second round, and move Barron to LT.
RamFanInCA: There were a lot of rumors floating around that Jason Brown didn't want to come here. We were hearing that he was using the Rams as leverage to get more money from Baltimore. What can you tell us about that? Where did that come from? Thanks again!
Jim Thomas: I think it was sour grapes created by those in Washington, Philly and Baltimore because he didn't sign there. A lot of time, teams that don't land a player will feed the media negative stuff. I don't know for a fact that this happened. But I do know for a fact that Brown was grousing some on the plane ride to St. Louis. It was a 6 a.m. flight, and he'd gotten next to no sleep because of all the calls after midnight Eastern time at the start of free agency. Plus, it was one of those so-called regional jets i.e., smaller than a bread box. I also know this, by Friday night at dinner with team officials he was telling his agent, Harold Lewis, "I love you" because the trip went so well. He hit it off with the Rams' coaches and front office, and he realized that St. Louis was a nice fit. If you saw him at his press conference, both the "formal" at-the-podium part, and the "informal" off-to-the-side part he was definitely jacked up about playing in St. Louis.
Mike: Does releasing Drew Bennett effectively clear some cap space for 2010 (assuming the same labor agreement is in place) by taking the hit for his signing bonus in 2009?
Jim Thomas: Sure it does. He was scheduled to count $5.45 million against the 2010 cap. Now, he counts nothing after '09.