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Simmons: How Will the Rams Approach Free Agency?

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  • Simmons: How Will the Rams Approach Free Agency?

    How Will the Rams Approach Free Agency?
    Posted 12 hours ago
    Myles Simmons
    Rams Insider

    The NFL’s “legal tampering” period is already underway, with free agent deals reportedly being agreed to in principle across the league. With the Rams sporting a new coaching staff, it’s reasonable to assume the club’s roster will undergo a fair amount of turnover between now and the start of the regular season. Free agency is one avenue for Los Angeles to make that happen.

    So how will the Rams approach free agency this year? Last week at the NFL Combine, general manager Les Snead detailed the organization’s usual methodology when it comes to offseason talent acquisition.

    “Philosophically we're always: Draft first and develop from within. But you’ve definitely got to use free agency to supplement,” Snead said. “With that, similar to the draft but different is, OK, you've got a board of UFA's, that you would like to acquire. Some of them get franchised before we get to next Monday and maybe your board changes. And then the market forces that go into it, because we've got a budget to work with.

    “We're definitely planning to be active, but you’ve got to wait to see how the process goes and see who goes off the board, what they get paid, and do they factor into your big picture,” Snead continued. “But I definitely think we need to use free agency to supplement our roster.”

    While head coach Sean McVay is heading into his first free agency period with the club, he said last week having Snead continue as Los Angeles’ general manager is helpful in putting together a free agency plan.

    “The thing you feel great about with Les being where it’s a new staff coming in, he’s got a jump on kind of what the draft has available, where there’s depth at certain positions that we need to address,” McVay said. “And that’s going to dictate what we do in free agency — maybe we’re able to address a certain need in the draft because there is a little more depth at a certain spot. So we expect to acquire some good players both through free agency and the draft and it’s something we’re looking forward to.”

    Two orders of business the Rams have taken care of over the last week are placing an original-round tender on restricted free agent defensive tackle Dominique Easley and placing the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson for the second year in a row. While trade rumors regarding Johnson surfaced on Monday, last week Snead said the club will likely get through the offseason program before having any more long-term contract discussions with the 2012 third-round pick.

    “I think what we're going to do with Trumaine is, because everyone is knew, we need to work together, live together, see if we all fit. Does Tru fit Wade, does Wade fit Tru? Because it's obvious by the tag number and what corners get paid, it's a heavy investment and you want to be right. Especially when you go long term,” Snead said.

    But when it comes to the Rams’ own unrestricted free agents, two of the most notable names are safety T.J. McDonald and wide receiver Kenny Britt. Asked about them at the Combine, Snead essentially had the same answer for both players.

    “We have to figure out if there’s a fit with us, with him,” Snead said of Britt. “With the new offense, we have to make sure that we’re going to put in the skill guys who are fits for Sean. We’re still in that process, but I know Kenny’s going to test the market.”

    And McDonald?

    “It’s definitely a different scheme, but that’s what we come to the Combine for. T.J., all of our upcoming UFAs, we’re definitely meeting with them here going into next week, see how that goes and evolves,” Snead said. “Again, it’s a big-picture map. Where does TJ fit, do you need something else instead of him, thinks like that. That’s what we’re working through now.”

    As for external additions, two offensive positions the Rams may address are wide receiver and offensive line. Snead said the Rams have a good sense of the market and who may fit with McVay’s offense. But it’s a bit more difficult to turnover a majority of those on the offensive line.

    “I do know this: We’re definitely inclined to try to figure out who in house is going to be one of our best five. And not just best five, but No. 6, No. 7, because that means something on game day,” Snead said. “But we’re also talking about, ‘Hey, what’s the advantage of adding someone in free agency, even the draft, to help that unit out?’ It’s a puzzle that we’re trying to figure out now. But there’s definitely going to be some guys in house that are in our lineup next year.”

    Still, Snead said the Rams will likely target some defensive players as well, with the scheme change from a 4-3 to a 3-4.

    “There's some positions we're adding to our defense we didn't have before,” Snead said. “It's not just one position, it's multiple.”

  • #2
    To those that are busy, here's Koa's cliffs notes version for the above: Snead, "We strive to build through the draft, but we'll definitely be active in FA. We don't know who or where cuz things change, but we'll look different... and we'll look the same."


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    • MauiRam
      Busy time for Rams GM Snead ..
      by MauiRam
      Friday, March 30

      PALM BEACH, FLA. • It has been an absolute sprint for Rams general manager Les Snead since he was hired in mid-February — and he's still a long way from the finish line.

      "I have caught my breath, but it's been intervals and then you start again," Snead said. "I do think the frenzy is coming to an end, and now it will be just a steady, fast pace leading up to the draft. Because the draft is a certain day — you know when it's going to be. It's like studying for that mid-term."

      In the case of the NFL draft, it's more like a final exam — Snead's first as a general manager. Already, Snead has helped engineer a blockbuster trade, getting three first-rounders and a second-round pick from Washington for the Rams' No. 2 overall pick.

      In free agency, the Rams already have signed six free agents, bringing in at least 17 free agents to Rams Park for visits. Snead wasn't kidding when he said he'd take an aggressive approach to personnel, and owner Stan Kroenke likes what he sees.

      "I think Les fits our model," Kroenke said. "Just like Jeff (Fisher) fit our model. Once we had a strong head coach in place, then we started looking for a certain type of individual (at general manager). We felt really good about Les, and so far Les has done a great job. He brings a lot of energy, a lot of intelligence, and considerable background to the job."

      It's going to take a lot more energy to get the Rams' roster set for the start of the 2012 season, because there are a lot of holes to fill. Another one was created Thursday when free-agent punter Donnie Jones agreed to a one-year deal with Houston. Jones arrived in Houston on Thursday night and told the Post-Dispatch he would take a physical and sign his contract today.

      So add punter to the "things-to-do" list. The Rams need help at wide receiver; need one, maybe two starting offensive linemen; a starting defensive tackle; a backup quarterback ... And did we mention there are only three linebackers currently under contract?

      "We'll play a lot of dime defense," Snead joked about the dearth of linebackers. "I don't think it is a time to panic, because there is a timeline. And the timeline is between now and final cuts for us."

      That timeline includes the rest of free agency, the draft, rookie free agents and then the final roster cutdowns around the league at the end of the preseason. The Rams are second in line for waiver claims at the start of the season.

      "This will be a year we should take advantage of that," Snead said. "We're on the front end of building this thing, so there is an element of wanting youth so they can grow with us. But we're not going to be able to do everything we want to do Year One in terms of filling holes. So there's going to be some, call...
      -03-30-2012, 11:36 AM
    • Tampa_Ram
      Snead and staff set for busy offseason
      by Tampa_Ram
      Snead and Staff Set for Busy Offseason

      Nick WagonerSenior Writer

      Snead and Staff Set for Busy Offseason

      In one hectic, scrambling offseason, Rams general manager Les Snead and his crew found a way to help the team drastically reshuffle a roster that was one of the oldest in the league into the youngest. They also helped in a makeover that saw the Rams go from two wins in 2011 to 2012.

      Imagine what they could have done had they actually had time to sit down, get to know each other get all of their ducks in a row.

      Welcome to 2013, a place where Snead has the staff he wants in place and nearly a full calendar year of working with the scouts and his personnel lieutenants’ fine tuning the details.

      “What happens when you come to a new team, usually you are going to focus on those big rocks,” Snead said. “You are not going to worry about the chaos that comes with the first day of school. I think you like it now in that ‘OK, we are teed up and into segments.’

      Last year at this time, Snead was still more than a month from being named to his new post after spending the previous three seasons as Atlanta’s director of player personnel and nearly two decades in the front office of the Falcons and Jaguars.

      Upon his hiring on Valentine’s Day last year, Snead hit the ground running knowing full well there wouldn’t be enough time to implement his system and still find a way to maintain efficiency.

      Snead was already up to speed in terms of the players in the draft and free agency since he was preparing to go through another offseason with the Falcons.

      Instead of trying to force a large group to learn a new system, Snead opted to go with something of a role reversal that would allow him to find a common ground with the previous system of evaluating and procuring talent.

      “It’s easier for me to come in and learn their system than teach a lot of people my system,” Snead said. “So what I did was ‘OK, let me see their system and see what’s similar there to my system.’ You then kind of put theirs in yours. That’s when the meetings become important. You have to discuss and get out of those guys, ask the questions you want answered and then see if you have to dig a little further. I think that’s the pros of coming in. It’s new, it’s a different set of eyes, let me ask the questions I would normally ask in Atlanta and get out of the guys what you are trying to get out of them.”

      With little time to come up for air, Snead engineered one of the biggest draft related trades in Rams’ history, dealing the No. 2 pick to Washington in exchange for first-round choices in 2012, 2013 and 2014 and an additional second-round pick last year.

      When all was said and done, Snead moved back again and had the Rams drafting four players in the top 50 and 10 players overall. That...
      -01-12-2013, 12:33 PM
    • RamBill
      GM Snead aims to fill Rams' "wants," not needs/PD
      by RamBill
      GM Snead aims to fill Rams' "wants," not needs
      • By Jim Thomas

      GM Snead aims to fill Rams' "wants," not needs : Sports

      In the world of Rams general manager Les Snead, there’s no such thing as a thin draft.

      And when it comes to filling out a roster, there are “wants” not “needs.”

      “Sometimes when you ‘need’ something, you become desperate,” Snead said. “When you’re desperate, you can make bad decisions.”

      Even after what looks like a good offseason a year ago in player acquisition, the Rams can’t afford bad decisions this time around.

      There won’t be as much roster turnover this time around. And there are fewer holes to fill.

      But at minimum, the Rams need another good offseason in order to become a bona fide playoff contender.

      In terms of the upcoming draft, the Rams reach a milepost in that pursuit with the NFL Scouting Combine, which begins Wednesday and runs through Feb. 26 in Indianapolis.

      For Snead and the Rams, their draft board comes into sharper focus after the drills, timing and testing, interviews, and medical exams in Indy. In some cases, they’ll get a better idea of who’s draftable — and who’s not.

      Some question marks will be answered in terms of injuries, attitude, or maybe off-field concerns.

      “It seems like every year, the quote is: ‘It’s not a deep draft.’ ” Snead said. “I take the opposite approach. I’ve never seen a thin draft. This is your chance to go improve your football team. You take the glass half full.”

      But obviously some positions are stronger than others.

      “Just as a hint, I think last year was probably a thin draft in terms of safeties,” Snead said. “Off the top of my head, the Alabama kid (Mark Barron) goes to Tampa and starts. The Notre Dame kid (Harrison Smith) goes to Minnesota and starts. I’m not sure if anybody else did.

      “This year, you could find a larger group of safeties come in and be starters (out of the draft). So it’s got ebbs and flows.”

      Obviously, no hints are needed to realize the Rams need help at safety.

      As another example, Snead said, “The rumor is it’s a thin QB draft. Last year, I know it was a strong QB draft. So, I don’t know, if you’re looking for a QB this year you may be disappointed.”

      Snead prefaced those remarks by noting: “I’m not looking at quarterbacks. We don’t need a QB, so I could spend upwards of zero percent (of my time) on the QBs this year.”

      There’s no doubt, however, that Snead and the rest of the scouting department — as well as the coaches — will be spending time looking at safeties, wide receivers, offensive linemen, tight ends and outside linebackers.

      And there’s a lot of information to sift through before the draft, set for April 25-27.

      “You say: ‘These are his strengths and weaknesses,’” Snead said....
      -02-16-2013, 12:16 AM
    • Rambos
      Rams say their plan to rebuild is working
      by Rambos

      As the Rams began the business of reshaping their roster in February, general manager Les Snead said there was one underlying theme: We're not one player away.

      There was no way of knowing if it would take 10 new players, or 20, or 30 to get the franchise out of its massive rut. But it was going to take more than one.

      "The goal was, 'Let's get multiple (draft) picks so we can get multiple players to go with our free-agent crop," Snead said. "And I think we accomplished that."

      To a degree, the "we're-not-one-player-away" mantra guided how the Rams approached free agency as well. There was no doubt that Tennessee cornerback Cortland Finnegan was their No. 1 target in free agency, and they would do what it took to sign him. But overall the Rams had a budget for free agency, and players rated within that budget.

      "Will this player come for this price?" Snead asked. "If he does — great, get him. If he doesn't — don't. Move on to the next-best player on the board."

      So now, with June approaching and the Rams in the heart of the spring practice period, the vast majority of players who will be on the final 53-man roster in September already are on hand.

      "From the time we got here, progress has been made," Snead said. "There's no doubt about that. So we're happy where we're at. We don't want to wait till 2014 (to turn it around). But what we do want to do is be improving, be competing, be thriving — where people can feel the momentum. And then you keep adding parts. Keep jelling as a team."

      Not every roster hole has been filled this offseason, but Snead feels the Rams have noticeably strengthened four units: defensive line, cornerback, running back and wide receiver.

      "Let's call them position groups last year that maybe either were thin, depleted with injuries, what have you," Snead said. "They are now strong. Now they can be some of your better units, those four."

      A closer look:

      Defensive line

      In a division in which San Francisco and Seattle like to run the football, it's imperative that the Rams get better up front.

      "We love the fact that we got (Michael) Brockers where we got him," Snead said. "That was a little bit of our goal when we made the trade back."

      The Rams drafted the big defensive tackle from Louisiana State at No. 14 after a trade-down with Dallas and will pair him inside with free-agent pickup Kendall Langford.

      "We've got two young ends," Snead said, referring to Chris Long and Robert Quinn. "We've added Langford. We've got Darell Scott coming back. Bam! You throw in Brockers, and all of a sudden that unit gets strong. Now the DL becomes a dominant unit."

      With Trevor...
      -05-21-2012, 02:40 PM
    • MauiRam
      Les Snead knows his role as general manager, & the NFL draft will help define it
      by MauiRam
      By Gary Klein

      The gleaming white, high-tech stationary bike sits just to the right of the desk in Les Snead’s office, across the room from a wall-mounted television monitor and next to a large whiteboard.

      With an iPad perched atop the bike’s black handlebars, and a water bottle nestled just below it, the Rams general manager can multitask while spinning.

      He says he watches video of the team and of draft prospects. He catches up on email. Sometimes, the exercise just clears his mind.

      “When you’re on it, your mind gets away,” he says, nodding toward the Schwinn. “That’s where some of your big-picture thoughts come into play.”

      Since the end of the Rams’ 4-12 season — which continued a 13-year playoff drought — Snead has been preparing for next week’s draft.

      This will be his sixth with the Rams, the first with new Coach Sean McVay and the first without former coach Jeff Fisher.

      Snead, like Fisher, received a two-year contract extension before last season. And he survived the aftermath of Fisher’s December firing.

      So a strong draft performance would seemingly protect his status.

      But when asked whether he feels pressure or thinks his job is on the line with this draft, he says he simply plays a role in a collective effort.

      “In our business, [pressure] implies there’s some sort of distress level,” he says, adding, “There’s no distress.

      “This is a ‘we’ thing. This isn’t singles tennis. … There’s an urgent determination and drive to get this thing to where we all want it to be, and the draft is a key component.”

      In the weeks leading up to last year’s draft, Snead made a blockbuster trade with the Tennessee Titans that enabled the Rams to move from No. 15 to No. 1 and select former California quarterback Jared Goff.

      This year’s draft apparently won’t be a referendum on Snead.

      “The most important thing for the organization in this draft is that Les and Sean have a vision of what they want to achieve together and how to go execute it,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ executive vice-president of football operations, says. “I don’t think any draft or free-agency period is ever make or break. You have to look at a body of work in totality.”

      Defensive tackle Aaron Donald and running back Todd Gurley, first-round picks in 2014 and 2015, respectively, were the NFL rookies of the year.

      Defensive tackle Michael Brockers, receiver Tavon Austin and linebacker Alec Ogletree are other first-round picks in the last five years that remain starters.

      But there also have been high-profile picks that did not work out.

      Penalty-prone offensive lineman Greg Robinson, the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, twice was benched last season and is being moved from left to right tackle.

      “The organization drafted rookies of the year in back-to-back years, so...
      -04-22-2017, 07:27 PM