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  • Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out

    Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Wednesday, Aug. 25 2004

    We all understand the NFL is a business, and a nasty one at that.

    The franchises are enormously profitable. Franchise values escalate yearly. The folks that own these franchises are very, very rich.

    Nobody should begrudge players for getting whatever they can out of the game, for as long as they can physically last.

    But there comes a point when a football player has to become a teammate, too, and consider the needs of the men he will line up with when the real games
    start.

    Orlando Pace is well past that point with the Rams. By refusing to report to training camp, he literally put his fellow Male Sheep in harm's way the past two weeks.

    Therefore, O.P. has become a terrible teammate.

    In his absence, tackle Grant Williams has played with an ankle injury because the Rams need experienced offensive linemen to play preseason games. He has played in pain, risking further injury.

    In Pace's absence, Adam Timmerman has played with a shoulder injury for the same reason. Chris Dishman has rushed back into the fray, still huffing and puffing, after his un-retirement.

    And Pace? He stayed out of camp, despite having nothing to gain by refusing to sign his franchise tag tender.

    Nobody should begrudge players who put themselves first, since the NFL quickly discards athletes once they lose value. But a player who puts himself THAT far ahead of his team . . . well, you have to wonder how he will ever move forward with the group.

    The Rams can't negotiate a long-term contract with Pace until he signs that tender and reports to work. The longer he waits to sign the tender, the less likely a deal can be struck before the season.

    Obviously the Pace Camp is frustrated by this whole "franchise player" designation, a piece of the collective bargaining agreement that inevitably creates hard feelings.

    Getting tagged year after year would aggravate any player eager to bank the staggering signing bonus that would come with a new long-term deal.

    Then again, a player can't expect to get a long-term deal from a competitive deal while making outrageous demands. A player can't expect to reach a long-term agreement unless his agents -- in this case the Poston brothers -- fit those requests within the salary cap framework of the team.

    Pace expressed some willingness to do just that during the spring, but then went back into hiding while his representatives held firm.

    The Rams have done a marvelous job managing their salary cap. Jay Zygmunt is a master at it. His creativity has allowed the Rams to keep many top players while remaining competitive year after year after year.

    It's a daunting task, but Zygmunt has done it while keeping Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt, Marc Bulger and other mainstays in the fold.

    The Rams aren't being cheap. The Rams are trying to maintain the best talent nucleus possible within the rules. If Pace wants to remain a Ram -- and that seems to be a big "if" these days -- then he and his people will ultimately have to work with Zygmunt.

    Why are they putting it off -- especially when Pace has so little to gain and his teammates have so much to lose?

  • #2
    Re: Teammates suffer while Pace -- with nothing to gain -- sits out

    He may hate the franchise tag, but i think that he hates sweating his ass off in macomb even more. Remember, he is getting paid at the top of his position and if he takes the cash up front, his base will drop materially.

    general counsel

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    • RamWraith
      Fans pile on Pace and Postons
      by RamWraith
      BY JEFF GORDON
      Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
      09/02/2004

      Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

      The Rams went to Oakland without Orlando Pace to play the Raiders. On the advice of his agents, the Poston brothers, the All-Pro left tackle is taking his holdout to the max.

      So the protests from the citizens of Rams Nation continue pouring into the "Letters to Gordo" bin. Here is another sampling:


      * * *

      "Pace has a couple things to gain. He gets to miss training camp. Isaac Bruce has said he doesn't think he needs training camp and wouldn't go if he didn't have to. Pace is living Bruce's dream. Almost everyone agrees that the preseason is too long.

      "And as the franchise player, not showing up for camp is Pace's only bargaining chip. If the Rams want Pace in camp they need to work out a deal with him. That's Pace's only leverage. I know Pace is a big dude but he can't play three positions at once . . . "

      -- Steve Dietrich


      GORDO: Trouble is, he can't bargain for a new deal until he signs the "franchise player" tender. So his holdout almost precludes him from negotiating a long-term deal before this season. It pushes the process back another year and prevents him from banking a signing bonus of, say, $17 million. This tactic didn't work last summer and it isn't likely to work this summer, either.

      As for Pace being but one player, that's true – but he is demanding superstar, team-leading, anchor-of-the-unit dollars. He is the cornerstone of the unit. His absence makes every other player's job harder.


      * * *

      "Most NFL players hate training camp, and when it comes to linemen, they are lazy. If you check most 'holdout' negotiations, they are settled on the last week or two before the start opening of the season. Why? The player works at his own pace and when they arrive, they are still three to four weeks away from 'playing shape.'

      "Don't defend these guys by saying they are working hard on their own. They don't. The prima donnas of the league do what they have to do until the season starts, and they get into shape on the team's time, not their time."

      -- David Carriger, Florence, N.J.


      GORDO: You're right about playing shape. Pace may have skipped some work, but he is putting himself at risk for injury. He also stands to diminish his effectiveness. If this holdout leads to injury or poor play, then he will hurt his negotiating power. He won't set any new records for long-term deals if he scuffles through a sub-par 2004 season.


      * * *

      "Orlando has the worst agent in football. Why doesn`t the press try incessantly to contact Pace, putting pressure on him?"

      -- Warren Bartold


      GORDO:...
      -09-03-2004, 08:11 AM
    • Nick
      How long is too long for Pace and the Postons?
      by Nick
      Just thinking out loud here after watching a disappointing Outside the Lines (see General NFL Talk), but the more I thought about the situation, the more I began to wonder...

      How long is too long when it comes to waiting for Pace and the Postons to reach a reasonable long term contract with the Rams?

      Obviously with the increasing amount of the franchise tag on Orlando Pace, as well as other players who we might want to retain using that tag, we can't tag Pace year in and year out. This is the second year in a row the tag has been placed on Pace, and while Orlando's comments in March were optimistic about a long-term deal being done this fall, we've yet to see or hear anything from him that would indicate that's still the case.

      So for a moment, let's assume that Pace signs the tender during the preseason and once again fails to sign a long-term deal. At what point do the Rams begin to look for a viable replacement at left tackle, thus marking the beginning of the end of their dealings with Pace and the Postons? Does such a point exist?

      Personally, I think that if the Rams and Pace can't reach a long-term deal by next spring when the time to franchise Orlando comes again, the Rams should begin considering alternative answers for the left tackle position. I'll be the first to tell you that Pace is one of the most valuable offensive linemen in the game, but the Rams cannot afford to be held hostage like this for many more seasons. Plus, I believe in the 2005 draft, there will be a number of good (not elite, but very good) tackle prospects, guys like Alex Barron or Jammal Brown, who may not be able to play as well as Pace, but should be very adequate and efficient players. Also, it's hard to tell who might be available in free agency, too.

      The bottom line is I don't see the Postons bending to lower demands, and I'm not convinced that Pace is going to give them the boot any time soon. As much as the Rams may want to continue tagging Pace year after year (I think an interview with Zygmunt alluded to this), I don't think that's going to be an option after another season or two.
      -08-09-2004, 12:01 AM
    • Guest's Avatar
      Its time for RamTime’s annual *****ing about Pace
      by Guest
      Yep it’s that time of year again when we collectively wonder if Pace is team player or not. It looks as if this year will tell a lot. Since he “fired” his agent and Walter Jones has signed there really is no reason for Opie to hold the Rams hostage and should sign a deal before free agency. We shall see but don’t hold your breath because I still maintain the he’s lazy and hates camp enough that he would trade not having to participate in spring training for holding his team hostage. It’s time people start calling this like it looks and stop giving him the benefit of the doubt.

      Left tackle for sale, abada abada abada Left tackle for sale.... Step right up and feast your eyes on this massive specimen. That's right for 8 million dollars he can be yours for a whole year ahm minus the off season and uhm minus training camp, and uhm minus most of the pre season... abada abada abada Left Tackle for sale....
      -02-25-2005, 02:07 AM
    • Nick
      Pace finally with Rams, but is he ready to commit?
      by Nick
      Pace finally with Rams, but is he ready to commit?
      By Jeff Gordon
      Online Sports Columnist
      Monday, Sep. 06 2004

      Rams coach Mike Martz remained on the high road Monday after wayward tackle
      Orlando Pace finally rejoined his team.

      Reporters wondered about lingering hard feelings from Pace's protracted
      holdout, the third of his career in St. Louis.

      "It's never remembered," Martz said. "That's his deal and I don't have anything
      to do with that. That's another world that I don't participate in."

      Yeah, well, fans want to participate in that world. So does the media.

      And Pace's teammates might have some thoughts on the latest holdout, too,
      should his camp-long absence affect the caliber of his play.

      There is only one way that this issue goes away: If Pace plays at his
      accustomed all-pro level from Week 1 on this season. If he stays healthy, opens
      holes for Marshall Faulk and protects Marc Bulger's backside, then nobody will
      have a beef with O.P.

      But if he struggles for a few weeks while trying to regain his game
      conditioning and bearings . . . we'll, let's just say the controversy will roar
      on.

      This is a pivotal season for the Rams. Many experts believe the team is
      teetering these days, just a key injury or two from starting a slide back to
      mediocrity.

      The loss of veteran offensive linemen Kyle Turley and Dave Wohlabaugh
      compromised the offensive line. Chris Dishman came out of retirement to fill
      one hole and journeyman Grant Williams will try to fill the other.

      Even with a healthy, fully-prepared Pace, there were going to be questions
      about this offensive line this year. So if Pace's performance is lessened by
      his boycott, then Martz may have a crisis on his hands.

      It is impossible to evaluate the offensive line until it faces real defensive
      game plans and real action. This unit has suffered rocky starts in the past,
      most recently with last season's fiasco at Giants Stadium.

      Will it happen again? If it does, the blame will fall squarely on Pace.

      I can certainly understand Pace's frustration with having to work under the
      "franchise player" tag year after year. But he shares some responsibility for
      his predicament.

      If he wants a long-term commitment from the franchise, he needs to structure
      his market-setting demands so that they fit into the team's salary cap
      structure.

      Also, HE has to make a commitment to the TEAM. It's a two-way deal. If he wants
      to be paid as one of the franchise's cornerstones, then he needs to become one
      of the franchise cornerstones.

      The team must pick and chose...
      -09-06-2004, 11:20 PM
    • 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
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