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Pace, Jones among best left tackles in NFL

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  • Pace, Jones among best left tackles in NFL

    Pace, Jones among best left tackles in NFL By Greg Bishop
    Seattle Times staff reporter

    KIRKLAND They were baking in the Hawaii heat and basking in the Pro Bowl props, just two of the top left tackles in the NFL talking about their families and football and those pesky franchise tags.

    Walter Jones and Orlando Pace were smiling. Both could sense another vacation lay ahead. They weren't sure, but maybe sometime in August?

    That franchise tag has become a regular training-camp trump card for two giants paid to be big and strong and make sure the quarterback doesn't get knocked out by someone he cannot see. They are his vitamins, essential to his health, his protectors, essential to his safety. They are the most important cog in his only line of defense.

    And when they're good and these two, who both play in Seattle tomorrow when the Seahawks host the St. Louis Rams, are considered among the best in the NFL they are paid handsomely in one of two ways. By putting their signature on a franchise tender or a long-term contract.

    Both are searching for the latter. But in the meantime, they can skip camp, report the first week of the season, not lose any money and still make more than almost any other teammate. Jones signed a one-year contract for $7.08 million, and Pace signed for $7.02 million.

    "I guess that says it's a valuable position," Jones said.

    "To me, that says that other than the quarterback, the most valuable position on any football team is left tackle," said Mark Schlereth, an ESPN analyst and former lineman. "Just look at the franchise list. You've got your left tackles and your cover cornerbacks, for the most part.

    "And those guys, guys like Jones and Pace, are so few and far between. That's why they can do what they can do."

    Skip training camp that so many of their teammates dread. They're that valuable, that important, that vital to offensive success.

    Schlereth should know. He watches offensive linemen the way most people watch the football, and when he's not analyzing, he's making instructional tapes for his Web site,

    *He watches Jones. He watches Pace. And he sees two big men with nimble feet like a ballerina, best compared to Shaquille O'Neal or an unusual car hybrid.

    "It's the power of a Hummer with the maneuverability of a Ferrari," Schlereth said. "People don't understand that any lineman worth his salt could play an entire game without shoulder pads. It's about athleticism and recovery. That's what the great ones do. It's what separates them from the also-rans."

    You don't have to look far to find the proof. The first five words in Pace's media-guide biography are "best left tackle in football."

    Fair enough. And if Pace is the best, which former Ram and current Seahawk Grant Wistrom seconded this week, Jones isn't far behind. Schlereth ranks Baltimore's Jonathan Ogden 1A, Pace 1B and Jones 1C. He doesn't see much separation.

    "We have a great one," Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren said. "And they have a great one."

    That's the way life has been since the Rams relinquished four draft choices to select Pace with the first pick in the 1997 draft. Five slots later, the Seahawks selected Jones after giving up two draft picks.

    Jones is 6 feet 5, Pace is 6-7. Jones is 315 pounds, Pace is 325. Both regularly make the Pro Bowl Jones went for the fourth time last season, Pace went for the fifth consecutive time. Both regularly miss training camp.

    And both rarely yield sacks.

    The Seahawks have not worried, even when Jones regularly skips training camp. Jones shows up the first week of the season and ends it in the Pro Bowl.

    "The other thing that people don't realize is that linemen can sit out camp and play at a high level not many position players can," Schlereth said. "They don't miss a beat because it's their athleticism that makes them good."

    But only for so long. Jones turned 30 this January and, eventually, he will need training camp. Or at least that's the theory offensive-line coach Bill Laveroni posited this week.

    "What happens, in every player, is as he gets older, those skills that were so easy for him as a younger player become harder to get kicked into motion," Laveroni said. "As you get older, those skills, like anything, you're just a split-second later with something that was automatically on time. There comes a time in your career when you need to have camp."

    How long will that be for Jones? For Pace? "I don't know," Laveroni said. "I just hope that things get worked out and he (Jones) can come to camp next year. If not, I just hope he's back

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • Guest's Avatar
    Why should he take less than walter jones?
    by Guest
    The only thing that counts in nfl contracts is guaranteed money. We all know that, so lets not get dazzled by the overall contract offer. According to the post dispatch today, the rams offer to pace is "several million less" in guaranteed money then walter jones took.

    Can someone please explain to me why pace should take less than walter jones? Why is pace greedy under these circumstances. Seattle has the same cap issues as we have. The circumstances are virtually identical. Same team entire career, same length of service, same health, same value to their team (we actually have more of a vertical passing offense so if anything pace is more valuable to us) and according to nearly every nfl expert you read, the two guys are about as even in terms of ability and performance as possible.

    I believe it is very clear that walter jones took less than his free market value to stay with seattle. He got a lot of money but less than he would have if he had been a pure free agent with no compensation required. Expecting Pace to take less than what is already a discount to market is just unreasonable.

    It is incumbent on the rams to find a way to offer the same deal that walter jones got. I have said all along and stand by my guns on this. If pace wants a penny more than jones got, someone can criticize his demands. If the rams arent willing to pay what jones took (ie a discounted price for a superstar who took less to stay home) than i blame the rams.

    Sign the Big Man

    general counsel
    -03-15-2005, 02:53 AM
  • HUbison
    Hawks got our problem, too
    by HUbison
    Les Carpenter / Times staff columnist
    Camp-cutting Jones due for appearance

    In the past, he used to push trucks through the Alabama sun. This was how Walter Jones spent the holdout summers, somewhere finding the perfect technique for stonewalling a pass rusher by putting his gigantic palms on the tailgate of a 4x4 and shoving with all his might.

    No one around the Seahawks knows what their best player, the one with all the Pro Bowls, has been doing these last few months. Mainly because no one around the Seahawks has seen or talked to Walter Jones. But the season is starting soon, and one of these days they figure they'll see him walking in through the parking lot, bag in hand, ready to play.

    Yesterday, coach Mike Holmgren was asked if he had heard from his starting left tackle. He laughed.

    "No, I haven't," he said.

    Then he smiled.

    "Usually I hear from one of you guys," Holmgren said. "His agent will tell someone something."

    But other than a brief, noncommittal conversation with this paper yesterday, Jones' agent, Roosevelt Barnes, has offered nothing.

    Nobody even believes this is about money anymore. The last two summers, when Jones sat home, the warm days were filled with demands for millions, for a record-breaking signing bonus and a Seahawks refusal to shatter its salary cap for a single player, even if that player was vital to making its offense move. After Seattle gave Grant Wistrom $14 million in guaranteed money this winter, it would have seemed Jones was justified in asking for a pile of money the size of Mount Rainier.

    Strangely, there has been no talk of money this summer. Jones just packed his bags as he does every January and disappeared. If the Seahawks and Barnes have discussed a contract in that time, they have kept those negotiations awfully quiet.

    The presumption is that Jones has simply grown accustomed to missing training camp and likes the idea of life without two-a-days and sleeping on tiny beds in a college dorm. And since he has been able to stroll in sometime in early September the last two seasons and still manage to make the Pro Bowl, well, why not do it again?

    This seems to be a growing trend around the league. Players like Jones, who have been designated their team's franchise player and therefore are not allowed to be free agents, have the luxury of holding their employers over a barrel. Oakland cornerback Charles Woodson missed all of the Raiders' training camp, as did St. Louis tackle Orlando Pace.

    It's the best scam in football: miss camp and get paid.

    In Jones' case, the payout will be a little more than $7 million for this season a fine sum but paltry compared to the tens of millions he could make if he signed a long-term contract. But what's a few more million when you...
    -09-01-2004, 01:46 PM
  • Guest's Avatar
    Pace on the Open Market
    by Guest
    One of the themes that people keep coming back to on Pace is that he should take less to remain a ram, to make the same kind of sacrifices that others have made for the benefit of the squad.

    Putting aside the issue of how short the careers of these guys are and the beating they take, i want to make a different point. Who says pace isnt prepared to take less, in fact considerably less, than he would get on the open market.\

    From balzers comments, the issue appears to be mainly the structure of Walter Jones contract and how the front end money affects our cap. I believe that Pace is worth far more than what jones got, because i believe that jones was worth more than what jones got (ie jones took less to stay in seattle than he would have gotten in the open market)

    Have you guys seen the money that above average players are getting? Does anyone doubt that if Pace were an unrestricted free agent with no compensation required he wouldnt get $20 mill or more up front from someone? Do you really believe that champ bailey, who got $17 million up front is better than Pace (corners age faster than tackles). What about the money robert gallery got and he hadnt played a down in the nfl.

    Bottom line. Pace's negotiating position Post Poston appears to me to be that he WILL take less than pure open market. We have cap problems due to warner, turley and other decisions we have made and i dont think that the best player on our team, which is pace, should be expected to suffer for that.

    If we trade him, wait until you see what he signs for with another team and then you can see how much less we offered him than his actual value.

    There is just no evidence at this point to suggest that pace is demanding full market value. Why should he get less than walter jones just because of our situation. We need to find a way to make it work.

    Sign the Big Man.

    general counsel
    -03-14-2005, 07:16 AM
  • Large_Ant
    Best left tackle in the NFL...
    by Large_Ant
    Finally an opinion from somebody with a credible opinion... Not my words, guys. :tongue:

    (good natured ribbing is all based on some punches we traded back before our last game)

    -11-25-2005, 08:38 PM
  • RamWraith
    What Randy Karraker has to say on Pace
    by RamWraith
    The Rams can talk to the agent, just not about a long term contract.
    Pace was a Pro Bowl player last year.
    With all due respect to Scott Tercero, I'll take a Pace that hasn't played to a Tercero that has.
    How's it going? I don't have anything against Tercero, either...I think he has a chance to be terrific. Hopefully at guard. But I wouldn't rather have him, right now, at 100% over an 80% Pace. To compare him to a five time Pro Bowler who's one of the two best tackles in the game isn't fair. Tercero may turn out to be a Hall of Fame player, but...once again with all respect due Tercero...Pace is going to the Hall of Fame. I'd rather have him.
    I said on the air the other night, if I were the Rams this would be it with Pace, I'd let him walk after this season because of the things you say. But since Pace is on the team now, he is their best offensive lineman. If the coaches didn't think he was their best left tackle on Sunday, they wouldn't play him. If he's frustrated and doesn't want to be here, good riddance. But he's the man now, and they can't get rid of him and change the offense. They've had to change enough without Turley. The Rams run an offense that requires someone of Pace's unique pass blocking abilities at LT. It'll take an off-season to change the personality of the team to a running team, or to find another premier left tackle.


    Oh, by the way...Brian Billick brought a broadcast crew I know into a film session last season and showed them mental mistake after mental mistake by Ogden, and told these guys he isn't as good as Pace and Jones. Grant Wistrom told me that Jones is far and away the best left tackle he plays against...this was last year after the Rams/Baltimore game. From all the coaches and experts I talk to, it's Pace and Walter Jones at the top, followed by Ogden, Samuels, McKinnie, then Roaf and Thomas. This isn't my opinion, just opinions from people that know a lot more about offensive line play, and see a lot more, than I do.
    -09-06-2004, 12:44 PM