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  • RamWraith
    Rams, Pace can resume talks
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    07/14/2004

    With the start of training camp less than two weeks away, a key piece of the Rams' puzzle still is missing. But the status of All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace, who has been designated the team's franchise player for the second year in a row, could be tidied up soon.

    Beginning today, the team can resume contract negotiations with Pace, whose agent is Houston-based Carl Poston. Talks ceased March 17 because under NFL guidelines, the Rams would have lost the right to apply the franchise tag on any player over the length of a contract that Pace may have signed before July 15.

    Both sides are seeking a long-term deal, with the main sticking point being the amount of the signing bonus: The Rams have offered $13 million; Poston initially asked for $27 million in a seven-year, $71 million proposal, but later indicated that he would seek a bonus of about $20 million.

    Pace, however, asserted later in March that he and the Rams might not be so far apart. A few days after a Post-Dispatch story cited two team sources who said the Rams would be willing to boost the bonus to $16 million or $17 million, Pace telephoned the reporter and said that if the Rams were to make such an offer, "I think we can get something done."

    Less than a week later, Poston said, "If that's what he wants to do, fine. It's his decision." Attempts to reach Poston and Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt, who handles contract negotiations, were unsuccessful on Wednesday.

    Pace, 28, boycotted the team's minicamps, offseason conditioning program and training camp last year in a contract dispute; he later was named the Rams' franchise player. He also missed minicamp this past May and again was absent from the offseason workouts.

    Pace is a six-year NFL veteran from Ohio State. The Rams selected him with the first overall pick in the 1997 draft. Pace, 6-foot-7 and 325 pounds, soon became the key cog on the offensive line. He has been invited to the Pro Bowl the past five seasons, a span in which the Rams posted a 56-24 regular-season record and appeared in two Super Bowls.
    -07-15-2004, 05:31 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams give Pace franchise tag again for 2005
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    02/11/2005


    Stop me if you've heard this one ...

    For the third year in a row, the Rams have designated left tackle Orlando Pace as their franchise player. The two sides can work on a long-term contract until March 15 but then would enter a "blackout" period when negotiations must cease until mid-July.

    If no deal is reached, Pace would have to sign a one-year tender to play for the Rams next season. The franchise number for offensive linemen this year is $7,424,000, but Pace would receive about a million more than that. Under league guidelines, he is entitled to the franchise number, which is the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, or 120 percent of his 2004 salary, whichever total is higher.

    He was paid $7.02 million last year, so his 2005 salary would increase to $8,424,000.

    Pace, 29, is in Hawaii this week for his sixth consecutive Pro Bowl and could not be reached to comment. The seven-year veteran out of Ohio State was the No. 1 overall selection in the 1997 draft.

    After getting the franchise tag in 2003, he skipped training camp, finally signing the tender and reporting. Last summer, after turning down a seven-year contract for more than $42 million, he held out even longer, again missing the entire camp and also all four preseason games. He rejoined the team less than a week before the season opener but started that week vs. Arizona.

    Pace split with his longtime agent, Carl Poston, last September. A players association representative confirmed Friday that Pace has not yet hired a new agent, which probably explains why the franchise designation was made almost two weeks before the NFL deadline.

    Rams may sign lineman with MS

    General manager Charley Armey reported Friday that the Rams are close to signing Khiawatha Downey, a 6-foot-4, 332-pound offensive lineman who was an NCAA Division II All-American at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

    Downey, a North Carolina native who started for two years at Division I Pittsburgh before transferring, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2001. He is believed to be the only player with MS, an auto-immune disease that affects the central nervous system, to attempt an NFL career.

    Downey wasn't drafted last year. "Teams backed away because of MS," he told reporters at the time. NFL scouts "gave me a third-round rating during the season, and then all of a sudden those same people don't want to pick me because they confirmed that I had MS."

    The San Francisco ***** signed Downey as a free agent and took him to training camp. But he suffered a knee injury and was released after reaching an injury settlement with the team.
    -02-12-2005, 05:34 AM
  • Nick
    ESPN: Orlando Pace has signed an agent, long term deal coming?
    by Nick
    Agents could facilitate long-term deal
    Updated: Feb. 27, 2005
    By Michael Smith, ESPN.com

    INDIANAPOLIS -- In what will perhaps be the first step toward finally reaching some form of resolution to what has been a contentious eight-year relationship with his team, St. Louis Rams left tackle Orlando Pace has settled on Kennard McGuire and Fletcher Smith of Skokie, Ill.-based CSMG Sports as his agents, a source said.

    Pace has been the subject of trade rumors, and a new deal would be his first long-term contract since the one he signed as a rookie.

    Considered one of the game's premier performers at one of its marquee positions, Pace had been without outside representation since firing his original agents, Carl and Kevin Poston, in September. Pace then acted as his own agent in signing his one-year, $7.02-million franchise tender.

    Two weeks ago, the Rams designated Pace as their franchise player for the third year in a row. Another one-year contract would pay him a guaranteed salary of $8.424 million, or 120 percent of last year's earnings.

    The sides have until March 15 to reach agreement on a long-term deal. If not, the Rams cannot sign Pace until July without losing the use of the franchise tag for the length of the contract. The hiring of McGuire and Smith increases the likelihood of a settlement of some kind, not so much because of who they are as who they aren't.

    The Rams have been at odds with Pace's representatives since St. Louis selected the 6-foot-7, 325-pound tackle first overall out of Ohio State in 1997. Pace missed all of his first training camp and three preseason games before coming to terms on a seven-year deal (it voided to six) and hasn't participated in the past two training camps because, technically, he was not under contract and, therefore, under no obligation to do so.

    No matter, it seems. Pace, 29, has been selected to each of the past six Pro Bowls. He's started every game in six of his eight seasons, including each of the past two, and 115 of 119 games played. He's also started eight playoff games.

    Last year, Pace rejected a seven-year, $42-million offer from the Rams that included a $13-million signing bonus. But Pace later told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that a signing bonus in the area of $15 million to $17 million would suffice; his agents, meanwhile, had at one point proposed $27 million in bonuses, which Rams president Jay Zygmunt famously termed a "ransom note." The Rams also spoke with the Browns about a possible trade last year.

    The Rams reportedly have had discussions with the New York Giants regarding Pace. But a Rams-Giants deal seems unlikely considering New York does not have a first-round pick -- it belongs to San Diego as part of the draft-day trade that landed the Giants Eli Manning.

    The contract to which Seattle recently signed Walter...
    -02-27-2005, 06:50 PM
  • Nick
    Rams and Pace talk as negotiating blackout looms
    by Nick
    Rams and Pace talk as negotiating blackout looms
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Mar. 08 2005

    Talks continue between the Rams and agents for offensive tackle Orlando Pace,
    but the clock is ticking. Just a week remains before a four-month negotiating
    blackout period begins for franchise players.

    Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt spoke with Pace's new agents
    Tuesday about a multiple-year deal. Zygmunt rarely says much about current
    negotiations, but he was particularly tight-lipped Tuesday about the status of
    the Pace contract talks.

    "We're conferring, and we'll continue to talk, but that's all I want to say at
    this point," Zygmunt said.

    Pace recently hired agents Kennard McGuire and Fletcher Smith of Chicago-based
    CSMG Sports. McGuire did not return a phone message from the Post-Dispatch on
    Tuesday.

    After designating Pace as the team's franchise player for the third consecutive
    year, the Rams have until March 15 to negotiate a multiple-year deal.
    Otherwise, under league rules, the Rams must wait until July 15 to resume
    negotiations. That would all but ensure that Pace misses the entire offseason
    conditioning program, minicamps, and all or most of training camp.

    Pace currently counts $8.425 million against the team's salary cap. A
    multiple-year deal could trim $3 million or more from that cap figure, freeing
    up money for the Rams to pursue other free agents.

    "It would just provide so much more money to continue to plug in a significant
    player on defense to help," coach Mike Martz said Tuesday.

    But Martz was almost as cautious as Zygmunt in assessing the Pace contract
    situation.

    "You always try to be positive about these things and hope that the right
    thing's going to happen, but we'll see," Martz said. "I don't know what to tell
    you."

    Rams renew interest in Roland Williams

    Seeking to bolster their tight end position, the Rams want to bring in Roland
    Williams for a visit and a physical. But Williams is headed to Hawaii for the
    NFL Players Association meetings today, and won't return for another week.

    Williams, 29, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Rams in 1998 out of
    Syracuse. He spent his first three NFL seasons with St. Louis as the team's
    primary starter at tight end. He was traded to Oakland following the 2000
    season, and has spent three of the past four seasons with the Raiders. He
    appeared in 12 games last season for Oakland, including three starts, but had
    no catches.

    Saipaia gets bonus

    Offensive lineman Blaine Saipaia received an extra...
    -03-08-2005, 10:43 PM
  • RamWraith
    Pace weighs in on his stance in contract talks
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 09 2004

    There may be no way to close the negotiating - and monetary - gap between
    Orlando Pace and the Rams. But at least Pace has learned to make the most of
    his time away from the Rams in terms of conditioning.

    "I feel light years better than I did last year," Pace said Thursday. "Just
    losing about 20 pounds. I feel a lot quicker, a lot fresher."

    Pace reported at 325 pounds Sunday, about 20 pounds lighter than last season,
    when he also boycotted all team activities and skipped training camp in a
    contract impasse. After his initial practices last season, Pace felt winded.
    Three practices into his 2004 season, that hasn't been the case.

    "I feel great," Pace said. "Compared to last year, it's like night and day.
    After taking a few reps, you're a little winded as everybody is, but not nearly
    as bad as last year."

    Pace trained a little differently this offseason, but the major factor in his
    improved conditioning was an improved diet.

    "I cut down on my fried foods," Pace said. "I tried to cut down on my soda, and
    things like that."

    Even at the heavier weight last year, Pace played surprisingly well at the
    start of the season. So in theory, he could be even more impressive in his
    trimmer, better-conditioned state.

    "I watched (practice) tape, and it looks like he's been here all camp," coach
    Mike Martz said. "Honest to goodness it does. No mental errors. He's quick.
    He's physical. ... He's not sluggish.

    "At this time last year, he was very sluggish. The conditioning was a factor
    for him last year. So I'm very pleased with where he is. He's obviously been
    very conscientious about being in shape and ready to go, and it's much
    appreciated by all of us."

    If only things could go as smoothly on the negotiating front.

    "I'm always hoping that they can get a deal done - for security reasons, and
    things like that," Pace said. "The possibility's still there. But I think at
    the end of the year, they'll try to hammer something out, or else I'll be
    franchised again."

    Pace's "end-of-the-year" comment was curious, because now that he has signed
    the one-year, $7.02 million tender offer, the sides actually can begin
    negotiating again.

    Under league rule, any talks came to a halt following a March 17 negotiating
    deadline. Since Sunday, when Pace signed the tender, the sides can talk again.

    A few weeks after the Rams' playoff loss to Carolina on Jan. 10, the Rams
    offered Pace a seven-year,...
    -09-10-2004, 05:19 AM
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