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  • Rams Ready for Free Agency

    Thursday, March 9, 2006

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    If becoming an NFL head coach was a dream come true for new Rams’ leader Scott Linehan, then the extended wait for the start of free agency and many of his offseason duties because of CBA problems was a harsh wakeup call.

    “It’s kind of like a rainout,” Linehan said. “(We are) getting ready to play the opening game and not getting to go play.”
    Well, the rain came to a halt Wednesday night when the NFL owners agreed on a 30-2 vote on the players’ proposal for a six-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement.

    The agreement comes on the heels of a few delays of the start of the NFL “new year.” The new year is the beginning of the NFL’s fiscal year and is highlighted by the start of free agency.

    The lack of an agreement had made it difficult for many teams to get a firm grasp on the future of their rosters. The salary cap number was unclear and many teams had to make difficult cuts to attempt to get under the perceived salary cap number. The start of free agency was delayed multiple times and the only moves a team could make involved players who were released in those salary cap moves.

    Now, the picture is much less fuzzy and every team knows where it stands in relation to the salary cap. All of the details of the CBA extension are not known as of yet, but here’s what is clear.

    • The start of free agency will be pushed back again, this time until 12:01 a.m. Saturday. This will almost certainly be the last delay in the beginning of free agency as the two sides bang out the details of the extension and take time to understand the intricacies of it.

    • The salary cap will be around $102 million. That’s an increase of $7.5 million from the original perceived number of $94.5 million and $16.5 million more than it was in 2005. The number will rise again in 2007, to $109 million.

    • Final proration terms for signing bonuses (in other words, how many years you can spread signing bonus payments out over) will be five this year as opposed to four a year ago.

    • The extension takes the collective bargaining agreement through the 2011 season.

    While the players’ union and executive director Gene Upshaw insisted on a total revenue sharing number of at least 60 percent, the final number is believed to have come in around 59.5 percent. Still, Upshaw said it wasn’t about trying to put one over on either side, just finding the best deal for the future of the league.

    “This agreement is not about one side winning or losing,” Upshaw said in a statement. “Ultimately, it is about what is best for the players, the owners and the fans of the National Football League.”

    Now that all of the details are known and free agency’s start date is more set in stone, the Rams and Linehan can finally attack the market in the way they have wanted to for some time.

    “Right now, there really is nothing to get done until Wednesday or Thursday gets here, until we get something resolved, that’s why we’re at where we are at,” Linehan said. “Everything got pushed back, and pushed back, and pushed back. That fateful day came without an agreement with the CBA.”

    St. Louis jumped into the market a little early by signing defensive tackle La’Roi Glover on Monday. But there is still plenty of work to do. The top of that list includes bringing back receiver Isaac Bruce, finding at least one, perhaps two linebackers, more help for the secondary and some depth on the lines.

    The Rams will enter free agency armed with over $20 million in cap space. That should allow them to make a variety of moves to improve the defense, but the additional salary cap space will make competition for top free agents even more competitive. Teams that were originally over the cap now have more flexibility and teams that were close to it now have plenty of wiggle room.

    At the top of the list of priorities is retaining Bruce, the original St. Louis Ram. Bruce was released last weekend after negotiations for a contract extension could not result in a deal. Now, Bruce remains a top priority, but he is getting interest from plenty of teams around the league.

    One thing working in Bruce’s favor should he choose to test the market is the fact that this year’s receiver crop is relatively weak in free agency and the draft. Some would argue that Bruce is the best or second-best receiver available. At least six teams have already expressed interest in his services.

    Still, Linehan remains confident that the Rams can get something done with Bruce.

    “It’s unfortunate that we are stuck here with a situation with Isaac, but that is part of the game,” Linehan said. “You have to be ready for things to go your way, and you have to be ready for a temporary setback or two. You just have to think positive. I do feel very confident that we will be able to resume some negotiations and hopefully get that resolved.”

    The rest of the Rams’ money is expected to be put toward building an improved defense after that unit finished 30th in the league last season. With Glover in the fold, it doesn’t appear likely that the team will be investing any more big money on the defensive line because of the need to add quality and depth at linebacker.

    Derek Smith’s re-signing with the Niners took one of the top linebackers out of the mix. The group isn’t extremely deep beyond that with LaVar Arrington as the biggest name available. He should garner considerable interest around the league and will probably land a big money contract.

    Because of the need for multiple linebackers, the Rams aren’t likely to pursue anyone that will break the bank, though that could change if they decide that an Arrington or Julian Peterson would make an immediate impact.

    More likely targets include Jacksonville’s Akin Ayodele, Indianapolis’ David Thornton and Tennessee’s Brad Kassell.

    There are a number of potential targets in the secondary, where the Rams have a decision to make on strong safety Adam Archuleta. Linehan and defensive coordinator Jim Haslett have made it clear they would like Archuleta to return, but they will need to act quickly as Archuleta has plenty of serious suitors lining up to make a move.

    Should Archuleta depart, the Rams will look to a group that includes Pittsburgh’s Chris Hope, Minnesota’s Corey Chavous and Buffalo’s Lawyer Milloy as potential additions. Some sources believe Chavous could be a favorite of Linehan’s and a likely addition. Hope would be the best bet for free safety help, but he is the best safety on the market and will have plenty of teams vying for his services.

  • #2
    Re: Rams Ready for Free Agency

    So am I! I can't wait until Saturday at 12:01 PM CST on Saturday!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams Ready for Free Agency

      At the top of the list of priorities is retaining Bruce, the original St. Louis Ram.
      And surviving Los Angeles RAM!
      13 years with one team, can we make 16 and a career?

      I hope so.
      JUST WIN ONE FOR THE FANS
      :ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram::ram:

      "HIT HARD, HIT FAST, AND HIT OFTEN"
      Adm. William "Bull" Halsey

      Comment

      Related Topics

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      • RamWraith
        Sunday Evening--Wagoner
        by RamWraith
        Sunday, March 5, 2006

        - We are less than a half-day away from the start of the new NFL fiscal year and there is no official agreement on a collective bargaining agreement. Assuming there is no agreement in extremely short order, the salary cap will hold right around $95 million. It appears, though, that the deadline to get under the cap and the start of free agency could be extended again depending on how close the two sides are to an agreement. When all is said and done, the salary cap could exceed $105 million. That would bode well for the Rams, who would then have some money to spend in the market and fill some important needs.

        - The status of Isaac Bruce seems less certain now than it did a few days ago. It seemed as recently as Thursday that a contract extension was a certain. But, as the days have gone on, the negotiations have become more tenuous. It's a tough spot for both sides. Bruce is an important part of this franchise and it isn't lip service when guys like coach Scott Linehan and receivers coach Henry Ellard say they want to retain Bruce. They really do want to keep Isaac in St. Louis and Isaac really does want to stay in St. Louis. But a decision has to be made by tomorrow, when Bruce is due a bonus. As we all know, though, this is a business and both sides have to do what they deem is best for them at the end of the day. It'd be disappointing, though, if Bruce couldn't find an amicable agreement that would not only ensure his status, but also help the team win. It's great that he wants to stay, but if it worth staying if the Rams don't have the money to spend to help those final seasons be winners?

        - Expect safety Adam Archuleta to get plenty of love from the free agent market right away. It's well know by now that the Redskins love him and there are a few other teams that are fond of Archuleta as well. The Rams are going to have to move quickly on the safety situation if they are serious about adding a talented veteran. That means getting in on the likes of Chris Hope, Archuleta or Marlon McCree right away and letting them know you are serious about getting something done. There are some solid options out there, but they probably won't last too long. Jerome Carter and Oshiomogho Atogwe are the two most experienced safeties on the roster. You just can't go into next season with that duo as the starters. It's fine to take a shot on one, but not both.

        - Don't expect any extremely lavish deals to come out of the Rams' free agent moves, but there might be some decent dollars shelled out, depending, of course, on what the salary cap number is when free agency starts. Signs point to the Rams going for a veteran to help in each section of the defense, i.e. one defensive lineman, one linebacker and one defensice back capable of starting.

        - Check back for updates on all of these topics throughout the evening.
        -03-05-2006, 04:21 PM
      • RamsFan16
        Wednesday Evening
        by RamsFan16
        Wednesday Evening
        Wednesday, March 8, 2006

        - The news out of Texas that the owners voted 30-2 to approve a new six-year collective bargaining agreement might have come later than we'd all have liked, but it's better late than never. Without knowing the full extent of the agreement, it's hard to say which side came out on top, though it's probably a safe bet to say that both sides are happy with the deal. The real winners are the fans, who now don't have to worry about a long, ugly lockout or strike in a couple of years.

        - According to initial reports, free agency will be pushed back another day and the official league year will begin Friday morning. It also appears that the salary cap will be bumped another $10 million. That would be huge news for teams that are over the cap now and even better news for eams already under the cap. After signing defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, the Rams still have plenty of cap room and if there's an extra $10 million to spend, it should only help in the pursuit of defensive additions and, especially, in the efforts to bring back receiver Isaac Bruce. Again, the official details of the cap are not clear yet, but most signs are pointing to the larger cap.

        - Some quick free agent tidbits...Linebacker Derek Smith re-signing with San Francisco is a little bit of a blow. He was one of the top linebackers on the market and has long been coveted by the Rams. Once again, the Rams won't get a crack at Smith. There are some other solid linebackers on the market that could be of interest. Expect the Rams to after at least one linebacker (with middle linebacker the top priority) and perhaps another veteran, depending on what they think will be available in the draft. Corey Chavous and Lawyer Milloy are possibilities at safety, but defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is serious about retaining Adam Archuleta. The Glover signing was a nice start and he seems like he will be effective not only on the field, but in the locker room. Scott Linehan values guys that bring those intangible qualities along with talent. If indeed the salary cap number increases, it's going to be an interesting market. The teams with money will have lots to spend and so it will be imperative to come with top-line offers right away. In other words, if someone you really want comes to town for a visit, it will be a good idea to get ink on a contract before that player leaves.

        - That's all for tonight, but we'll have a look tomorrow at where the Rams stand heading into free agency and what the new collective bargaining agreement could mean to the future of the franchise.
        -03-08-2006, 08:31 PM
      • Rambos
        Nick Wagoner Wednesday Evening
        by Rambos
        Wednesday Evening
        Wednesday, March 8, 2006

        - The news out of Texas that the owners voted 30-2 to approve a new six-year collective bargaining agreement might have come later than we'd all have liked, but it's better late than never. Without knowing the full extent of the agreement, it's hard to say which side came out on top, though it's probably a safe bet to say that both sides are happy with the deal. The real winners are the fans, who now don't have to worry about a long, ugly lockout or strike in a couple of years.

        - According to initial reports, free agency will be pushed back another day and the official league year will begin Friday morning. It also appears that the salary cap will be bumped another $10 million. That would be huge news for teams that are over the cap now and even better news for eams already under the cap. After signing defensive tackle La'Roi Glover, the Rams still have plenty of cap room and if there's an extra $10 million to spend, it should only help in the pursuit of defensive additions and, especially, in the efforts to bring back receiver Isaac Bruce. Again, the official details of the cap are not clear yet, but most signs are pointing to the larger cap.

        - Some quick free agent tidbits...Linebacker Derek Smith re-signing with ........ is a little bit of a blow. He was one of the top linebackers on the market and has long been coveted by the Rams. Once again, the Rams won't get a crack at Smith. There are some other solid linebackers on the market that could be of interest. Expect the Rams to after at least one linebacker (with middle linebacker the top priority) and perhaps another veteran, depending on what they think will be available in the draft. Corey Chavous and Lawyer Milloy are possibilities at safety, but defensive coordinator Jim Haslett is serious about retaining Adam Archuleta. The Glover signing was a nice start and he seems like he will be effective not only on the field, but in the locker room. Scott Linehan values guys that bring those intangible qualities along with talent. If indeed the salary cap number increases, it's going to be an interesting market. The teams with money will have lots to spend and so it will be imperative to come with top-line offers right away. In other words, if someone you really want comes to town for a visit, it will be a good idea to get ink on a contract before that player leaves.

        - That's all for tonight, but we'll have a look tomorrow at where the Rams stand heading into free agency and what the new collective bargaining agreement could mean to the future of the franchise.
        -03-08-2006, 07:07 PM
      • Rambos
        Thank God we are under the cap.
        by Rambos
        By Len Pasquarelli
        ESPN.com

        Most fans couldn't care less about the collective bargaining agreement and, justifiable or not, view any discussions of negotiations aimed at extending labor peace through the 2013 season as just another example of the avaricious nature of already overpaid players.
        By Thursday, however, when the real-world ramifications of the failed labor talks become more apparent, fans in a lot of NFL precincts will take notice. With negotiations toward an extension having broken off Tuesday afternoon -- despite earlier optimistic reports that the sides were poised to strike an agreement -- salary cap managers from several franchises are readying themselves for what one general manager suggested late Tuesday will come to be known as "Bloody Thursday."
        Translation: Because so many teams are up against the projected cap limit of $95 million to $96 million for 2006, and the lack of a CBA extension means there are few options for relief, some big-name players will be jettisoned by Thursday, when teams must be in compliance with the spending limit.
        "In past years, you'd see a lot of guys released who maybe still had some name value, but who were really in decline in terms of production," said one AFC team executive who was working late Tuesday, trying to figure out how to pare down a prohibitively bloated cap figure. "This year? People are going to be stunned -- not just by the quantity of players who are cut by Thursday, but by the quality, too. It's going to be ugly. There's going to be blood in the streets and, compared to past years, it's going to be from some bluebloods, guys who can still play."
        For a few hours into Tuesday night, after word broke that NFL Players Association executive director Gene Upshaw had departed league offices in Manhattan and headed back to Washington -- after declaring the negotiations hopelessly deadlocked -- there was a sense that the union chief was undertaking one last bit of posturing. As the evening wore on, though, it became increasingly obvious that Upshaw and the league were not just practicing brinksmanship, and that the NFL could instead be poised on the brink of disaster.


        The word most often used by teams' staffers, the people charged with crunching the salary cap numbers, and who clearly had bought into the notion that a CBA extension would be struck: stunned.
        Said one cap manager: "For months, my owner told me to develop two strategies, one with [an extension] and one without. But nobody, even with all the gloom-and-doom talk of the last few weeks, ever really believed we'd be breaking out 'Plan B.' And then, these last few days, even my owner was telling me he thought it would get done. Unless there's some kind of miracle on Wednesday, our team is going to have to do some drastic things, and I know we're not the only team in that situation."
        How drastic? There...
        -03-01-2006, 07:35 AM
      • RamsFan16
        Questions and answers about the NFL labor talks
        by RamsFan16
        Questions and answers about the NFL labor talks
        ESPN

        The sudden change in the climate of labor negotiations between the NFL and the players' association, and the sudden flurry of player cuts, has left many fans with questions. Fortunately, ESPN.com has answers.

        What is the primary issue?
        The deadline to extend the current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) had been scheduled to expire at 12:01 a.m. Friday, March 3. However, the league and the players' union mutually agreed late Thursday to extend that deadline by 72 hours, to Monday, March 6, at 12:01 a.m. This is merely the negotiating period to extend the CBA. The CBA itself does not expire until after the 2007 season.

        Why is that deadline important?
        That deadline represents the beginning of the new NFL fiscal year. Teams had been working under a deadline of 10 p.m. ET Thursday to come into compliance with the salary cap, a six-hour reprieve from the original 4 p.m. ET deadline. However, Thursday's delay in the start of the new league year also pushed back the deadline for teams to release players and clear their salaries from the books. Teams now have until 6 p.m. ET Sunday to get under the 2006 cap limit.

        Could the negotiating deadline be extended again?
        Once thought unlikely, a further delay in the start of the new fiscal year is certainly possible given Thursday's developments. Pushing back the start of free agency gives the league and the union more time to work on an extension, and in the event an extension still can't be reached, gives teams more time to come into compliance with the 2006 cap.

        If the sides are unable to agree on an extension, though, some teams will have to release some very significant players in order to clear cap room. The 2005 cap was $85.5 million, and teams were anticipating a 2006 cap of around $102 million with an extension to the CBA. However, the actual 2006 cap is going to be $94.5 million, which has some teams scrambling to comply.

        If an extension is reached, what happens to players already released for cap purposes?
        A high-level source with one NFL team told ESPN.com the league has informed teams that any player placed on waivers during this period of uncertainty can be recalled from waivers until there is more clarity about the pending free-agency period.

        What happens if a team doesn't comply with the salary cap?
        No team has ever gone over the salary cap, so this is a bit of an unknown. However, teams have been fined in the past for attempts to circumvent the cap. ESPN.com contributor and former Miami Dolphins GM Rick Spielman says NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue has wide latitude in fining teams -- and even individual team executives -- or stripping draft picks for failure to comply with the salary cap.

        With some teams in dire cap shape, we could see sooner than later just how wide the commissioner's...
        -03-04-2006, 09:07 AM
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