We knew the St. Louis Rams had an interest in re-signing impending free agent Mark Clayton. Now, it's official. Today's Post-Dispatch features a report from the Rams front office as well as Clayton's agent stating that the contract talks have started between the two sides.
Don't expect anything to happen immediately though. Kevin Demoff, the Rams VP for football operations and contract guru, said that Clayton is someone they'd like to extend before the league falls apart on March 4. Clayton's agent, Jim Steiner, sees things as further apart.
There doesn't seem to be any urgency on either side, but we have started the process. If everybody could achieve their goals, then it would be great to get it done. Obviously we can't sacrifice that based on the timing of it. We'll see.
I suspect there's not an urgency because if the lockout drags on into August or even September, there's a distinct possibility that free agents will wind up back with their teams at 120 percent of last year's salary.
Bringing Mark Clayton back into the fold makes all the sense in the world for the Rams, changed offense or not. The assumption would be that a healthy Donnie Avery and Clayton would give the Rams their starters on the outside. Really, it would give them the flexibility to mix things up, using Avery and Clayton in various combinations with Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson.
And what about another receiver? Re-signing Clayton is probably a good sign that the Rams will not pursue any of the higher-end free agent receivers, like Sidney Rice. As far as the draft goes, bringing Clayton back doesn't preclude them from drafting a receiver. A healthy pair of Avery and Clayton would give that receiver some exposure without thrusting them into the spotlight as a rookie.