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  • Rampage re-sign receiver Dutcher

    Thursday, July 01, 2004
    By Gary Bond
    The Grand Rapids Press
    Jeremy Dutcher is one of the many Grand Rapids Rampage free agents this offseason, but the former Ottawa Hills High School graduate never considered signing with anyone but his hometown team.

    "Grand Rapids is where I want to be," said Dutcher, who signed a two-year contract that will have him in a Rampage uniform through the 2006 season. No other details of his contract were disclosed.

    "I didn't want to go through free agency because I'm in a great position with my family, friends and job here.


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    "Proving the doubters wrong has been something I've had to do since my college days at University of Saint Francis (Indiana). The Rampage gave me an opportunity this past season and it feels good they think I'm worthy of keeping around."

    The Rampage went through the worst season in the franchise's seven-year history in 2004, posting a 1-15 record. But the Dutcher, who had played in two AFL games before this season, had a productive year as a wide receiver/linebacker.

    Dutcher finished third on the team in receptions with 52 for 633 yards and shared the team high in touchdown catches with Steve Smith and Josh Bush with 10.

    Defensively, he recorded 18.5 tackles, two pass breakups and one interception.

    "Dutcher is a quality player and Grand Rapids is a good fit for him," Rampage interim head coach Rick Frazier said.

    Frazier, who is under contract until October, is one of the candidates for the Rampage head job.

    Rampage general manager Scott Gorsline is expected to begin interviewing candidates next week and could introduce a new coach as early as July 15.

    "Re-signing players for a team I'm not sure exactly what my coaching status will be next season is a little awkward, but the fact is the Rampage are still paying me and I owe it to them to do my job and do it the right way," Frazier said.

    Until June 30, AFL teams could negotiate only with their own free agents, but now all teams in the league are free to talk with free agents, and signing begins in October.

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  • Nick
    Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market
    by Nick
    Rams prepare to evaluate free-agent market
    BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Friday, January 7, 2011 11:45 am

    Less than 72 hours after the team's season-ending loss in Seattle, Rams coaches began evaluating free agents throughout the NFL.

    "We gave them the free-agent lists — the UFAs — and they started that process (Wednesday) morning," general manager Billy Devaney said.

    Never mind that the current labor impasse between team owners and the NFL Players Association means there is no salary cap, and no guarantee that an agreement will be reached before the March 4 start of free agency period.

    "I think everybody's hopeful that March 4 will come and we'll have a new league year and start (as usual)," said Kevin Demoff, the Rams' executive vice president of football operations. "But that's to be determined. You have to have a number of different scenarios mapped out, and adjust depending on how the offseason unfolds."

    In the meantime, the evaluation process remains the same at Rams Park. The scouting staff evaluates potential free agents, the coaching staff gets involved in the process, and you go from there.

    For now, the Rams are treating all players with four years' experience and expired contracts as potential unrestricted free agents, or UFAs. This past offseason, with no salary cap, only players with six years' experience and expired contracts were eligible for unrestricted free agency.

    But for now, the starting point for the Rams in terms of the free-agent evaluation process is that the old system is in place.

    "At some point things may be different, but as of right now we're still planning for the 2011 season and what's best for the St. Louis Rams," Demoff said.

    A big part of that process is evaluating the Rams' own free agents. The Rams have 12 players scheduled for unrestricted free agency and eight scheduled for restricted free agency.

    Of the 12 players on the unrestricted list, five were starters in 2010: wide receiver Mark Clayton, tight end Daniel Fells, defensive tackle Gary Gibson, offensive guard Adam Goldberg, and wide receiver Laurent Robinson. Also, cornerback Kevin Dockery filled the nickel-back role for much of the season.

    Although Devaney isn't tipping his hand, if there's a top priority regarding the 12 UFAs, it's probably Clayton, whose season ended early in Game 5 in Detroit with a patellar tendon injury. After being acquired in a Sept. 6 trade with Baltimore, Clayton had a huge impact in the Rams' passing game, catching 23 passes for 306 yards and two touchdowns.

    "We think the world of the guy," Devaney said. "We would love for him to be here."

    At tight end, Fells finished third on the team in reception yards (391) and fourth in catches (41), while catching two touchdown passes....
    -01-07-2011, 11:05 AM
  • HUbison
    It's a free-for-all for the free agents
    by HUbison
    It's a free-for-all for the free agents
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    03/26/2005

    The competition for talent early in free agency has become so keen that neither the team nor the player wants to mess around.

    Almost every year since the start of the current NFL free agency system, the top players go quickly, and this year has been no different.

    On March 2, at the start of the free agency period, the Post-Dispatch listed the top five free agents in nine positional categories. Of the 45 players listed, only eight are still looking for jobs just 3 1/2 weeks into free agency.

    So the feeding frenzy hasn't changed. If anything, it has become even more frenzied. It used to be that free agents visited several cities before deciding on a new team.

    Remember the Reggie White "Tour Across America" in 1993? The late Minister of Defense visited enough towns to have a division named after him before deciding on Green Bay in '93, the first year of the current system. But such tours are nearly nonexistent these days. Players usually go to a city to sign a contract. No fuss. No muss. Some sign without even taking a visit.

    "This year, it seems to have been very dramatic," said Jay Zygmunt, the Rams' president of football operations. "I don't know the exact percentage, but so many players are not making the multiple visits."

    The competition for talent early in free agency has become so keen that neither the team nor the player wants to mess around.

    "The best players are available early on," Zygmunt said. "The most money's available early on. And it's almost like there's a synergy that just says, 'Hey, this is the time to make a deal.'"

    This year, the Rams did just that, signing linebackers Dexter Coakley and Chris Claiborne on the first two days of free agency.

    Similarly, Dallas made waves early in free agency by signing cornerback Anthony Henry (Cleveland), defensive tackle Jason Ferguson (New York Jets) and offensive guard Marco Rivera (Green Bay). Those three players accounted for nearly $28 million in signing bonus money.

    Carolina jumped on cornerback Ken Lucas (Seattle) and offensive guard Mike Wahle (Green Bay), for a combined $16.4 million in signing bonus.

    "Everyone's looking for the big splash," Zygmunt said.

    But the best players aren't necessarily the ones with the most name recognition. Teams frequently fall into the trap of buying "names" instead of buying players.

    "As you well know, the best players (often) are the guys signed that the public doesn't even know who they are," Zygmunt said. "As opposed to signing the aging veteran, which everybody does. ... Sometimes you get caught up in the thrill of the chase."
    ...
    -03-27-2005, 04:12 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Rampage hides nothing in search for new coach
    by DJRamFan
    July 16, 2004







    The Grand Rapids Rampage has come up with a rather unusual hiring procedure for its next head coach.


    Pro sports teams usually try to keep their coaching candidates a secret, mainly out of respect to those who ultimately don't get the job.


    But the Rampage, which plays in the Arena Football League, sent out a press release Thursday revealing its five finalists: Rick Frazier, Rampage interim head coach; Sparky McEwen, former Rampage offensive coordinator and current Oklahoma (Arena Football 2) offensive coordinator; Tom Luginbill, Detroit Fury head coach; Kevin Porter, New Orleans VooDoo defensive coordinator; and Steve Thonn, Dallas Desperados offensive coordinator.


    Not only did the Rampage announce its finalists, but the team invited the media to spend time with each of them when they are flown in for interviews next week.


    Another bizarre twist is the news that Luginbill would interview for the job. His contract with the Fury doesn't expire until August, but he has been given permission to pursue other opportunities.


    Fury officials haven't addressed the future of the franchise since the season ended. Palace Sports & Entertainment president Tom Wilson hasn't responded to repeated interview requests about the Fury in recent weeks. Wilson originally told the Free Press that he would reach a decision on the Fury's fate after the season. It has been months with no official word. People familiar with the situation say the outlook is bleak.


    The Fury did not sign any of its players in June, when arena teams are allowed to re-sign their players before the free-agent period begins in August. So all the Fury players are free to sign with other teams.


    Reached in Alabama, Luginbill said he had no comment on Detroit's situation. But he said he's glad to be able to look for other work and said he thought Grand Rapids could be a good fit. "They have the intangibles it takes to have a championship atmosphere there," Luginbill said.


    Frazier didn't show much when he took over for the Rampage, guiding the injury-plagued team to an 0-5 record after replacing Bob Cortese, who resigned after a 1-10 start.


    Thonn and McEwen were finalists for the job before, losing out to Cortese.


    Porter played five seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs and was a head coach in AF2 with Macon (Ga.) and Pensacola (Fla.) before helping the VooDoo to an expansion-record 11-5 regular season.






    By George Sipple
    -07-17-2004, 03:05 PM
  • RamWraith
    Inside Slant
    by RamWraith
    Posted 2/17/2007 1:49 AM ET
    With the scouting combine approaching, and free agency to begin about a week after the combine ends, it's time for a new name at Rams Park to make his mark.
    Former Carolina Panthers personnel man Tony Softli came to the Rams during the summer to be vice president of player personnel. Softli is ready to dive into the time of year that can be hectic but rewarding.

    Said Softli, "What we're trying to do here is build a championship base, a foundation. And it's going to start with this draft. This draft and this free agency period are going to push us forward. ... I think coach (Scott Linehan) did an outstanding job to push, to keep these players together when we had the losing streak (last season). To keep these guys focused and finishing strong with a chance to get in the playoffs.

    "(Now) it's like a tag team. 'Tag, you're it. Let's go get some players to make us better.' "

    Softli loves to get out in the field and see the college players during games. His goal is to see in person the top 150 draft eligible players each year, noting that should be the first five rounds of the draft.

    Talking about watching college games, he said, "You go down on the field before games and you get to see that fevered pitch. You get that attitude, that mind-set, before a game. To me that's really important because that's what's going to come to our team."

    Softli planned his year to also be able to see the Rams.

    "Like when we're playing at Green Bay," he said. "I went and watched a Wisconsin game, then drove up to Green Bay, watched our game and flew back with the team."

    There were about 35-40 colleges he visited during the week, just watching film and practice.

    As for free agency, Softli is putting together a lost of the top five players at each position. He does that with an eye for what Linehan is looking for in a player.

    Softli concluded, "This is our first year. (Linehan's) feeling me out, and I'm feeling him out. What he needs and what he wants. It's all out on the table now. It's a matter of just putting it all together, working together and moving forward."


    —To say the least, it was frenzied finish to the season for Rams running back Steven Jackson.

    Running with a passion difficult to harness, Jackson had 89 rushing attempts for 419 yards in the final three games of the season, all Rams wins.

    A 59-yard run for a touchdown in the season finale against Minnesota accomplished a few things. It prevented the Vikings from setting an NFL record for fewest rushing yards allowed in a season.

    On a personal level, it enabled Jackson to finish the season with 2,334 combined yards from scrimmage, the most in the NFL. He one-upped San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson in that category by...
    -02-18-2007, 08:22 AM
  • DJRamFan
    Owner says 'sloppy' play led to Haege's dismissal
    by DJRamFan
    Fear of losing players contributed to decision
    By Adam Candee
    <[email protected]>
    LAS VEGAS SUN

    An emotionally detached assessment showed Jim Ferraro that he wanted to fire Frank Haege as the Gladiators' head coach. The perceived danger of losing current and prospective players because of Haege, combined with the owner's distaste for the team's "sloppy" play during the past two seasons, made it easy for Ferraro.

    But the owner's personal respect for Haege made it hard to pull the trigger.

    "You look at it all and the decision was not really hard at the end of the day," Ferraro said Friday, speaking publicly for the first time since Haege was fired on July 28. "It was just hard for me to do it."

    Along with a long evaluation process that Ferraro said could not have happened while the team focused on winning games during the season, that respect led to the two-month wait after the season's end to fire Haege.

    Ferraro is in town to conduct interviews with the three finalists to replace Haege: Gladiators assistant head coach Ron James; New Orleans defensive coordinator Kevin Porter; and Indiana interim head coach Mike Wilpolt. Interviews begin tonight and continue Tuesday, with Ferraro and general manager Dan Dolby hoping to select someone by Friday. Ferraro recently returned from a long trip out of the country, which slowed the process of hiring a new coach.

    After three middling seasons that produced a 25-21 record and a division title, but no playoff wins, Ferraro entered the offseason intent on evaluating Haege's situation after signing the coach to a three-year contract extension during the 2003 season.

    The most distressing conversations Ferraro had, he said, were with people both inside the organization and around the league indicated that some free agents might avoid Las Vegas and that some current Gladiators might try to get away from the team if Haege remained the head coach.

    He became more disturbed by the lack of support he found for Haege from both players and management.

    "I didn't have anyone who objected to it," Ferraro said of firing Haege.

    No players have spoken out against Haege. Talking the day after Haege's firing, Gladiators quarterback Clint Dolezel -- the team's centerpiece acquisition last offseason -- expressed no reservations about the coach.

    Dolezel did not mourn for long, though, phoning Dolby to vouch for Sparky McEwen as Haege's replacement. McEwen, who worked with Dolezel in Grand Rapids as the offensive coordinator, came off the Gladiators' finalist list Friday when he accepted the head job with the Rampage.

    Ferraro was disappointed in both the Gladiators' preparation and performance leading to an 8-8 record in 2004 after he spent up to the $1.7 million salary cap to upgrade...
    -08-17-2004, 11:12 AM
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