This week we take a look at free agency and attempt to establish odds on possible player transactions occurring during the upcoming free agency period.
The Rams currently have 18 players from last years roster that are eligible for free agency. Among the 18, there are three that can have a big impact on the Rams immediate future: Danny Amendola, William Hayes and Brandon Gibson. In addition, the Rams have given Steven Jackson the option to void his contract. For all intents and purposes he, too, can become a free agent.
The overriding concern for the Rams heading into the free agency period is the available cap space situation. Currently, the Rams are 1.0 million (rounded off) over the estimated salary cap for 2013.
What are the implications of that available cap space figure? The implications are two-fold: The Rams will have some difficult decisions to make regarding which of their own free agents they can/will be able to re-sign and it will be very difficult (if not impossible) to sign any big name free agents from other teams.
Signing free agents from other teams (> 3.0 mil/season) - 40-1
Signing free agents from other teams (< 3.0 mil/season) - 15-1
Signing more than 5 of our own free agents - 13-1
Re-signing Brandon Gibson - 12-1
Re-signing Danny Amendola - 10-1
Re-signing William Hayes - 7-1
Re-signing Steven Jackson - 4-1
Rationale in determining the odds
The Rams can ease their cap space constraints by restructuring some contracts and by cutting some players. The most likely targets in this type of scenario are: Harvey Dahl, Wayne Hunter, Steven Jackson and Quintin Mikell. Bear in mind, however, that the Rams will need to create space to negate the 1.0 million over the cap, sign their rookie draft choices and have at least 2 million in cap space available at the start of the season in case of injuries during the season.
The highest odds presented are those for signing big name free agents from other teams. The reason for this is clear: The Rams simply don't have the available cap space to do so. They can potentially create enough cap space to do so but this would severely impinge on their ability to put together the rest of the roster. The next highest odds are for signing lesser name free agents. The rationale is the same as for higher priced free agents, just to a lesser degree. Every indication is that the Rams would like to sign their own free agents that they would like to keep before entertaining thoughts of signing other free agents.
Brandon Gibson - His odds are the highest among the individual players. The reason for this is clear as well: he has the least priority status for the Rams among the four players mentioned. These odds may change if the Rams cannot come to terms with Danny Amendola.
Danny Amendola - Les Snead spoke about Amendola at the combine, expressing his concern with the injury problems incurred by Danny over the last two seasons. It has been reported here on TST that the two parties are far apart in terms of dollars related to a contract. None of this bodes well for re-signing Amendola and the odds reflect the current situation.
William Hayes - It is no secret that both Hayes and the Ram's organization would like to see him back in a Ram's uniform next season. The only issue here would be money, although a contract for Hayes would not break the bank or put the available cap space situation in dire straits.
Steven Jackson - Every indication from Jeff Fisher's and Les Snead's pressers at the combine suggest that it is a priority for the Rams to re-sign Jackson. Snead told the assembled that he had a picture of Jackson in office, blocking in the backfield. Although Jackson is likely to test the free agent market, he likely won't get much more there than the Rams would be offering. Jackson has stated how much he wants to stay in St. Louis and the feeling appears to be mutual. If Jackson does in fact re-sign with the Rams, it will likely be for an amount that is significantly less than the 7 million he is currently owed on his contract. Again, the Ram's front office would likely be able to make this work without putting too much pressure on available cap space.
I have heard commentary suggesting that the positive statements made by Jeff Fisher and Les Snead about signing their own free agents is nothing more than a public relations ploy. I suppose that could be true. Why would they go to the trouble of doing such a thing and actually conduct negotiations with players who they don't want or don't think they will be able to sign? I, for one, believe that they mean what they say.
As with the first "odds" article that I posted, the odds contained in this post are highly subjective and based on one persons opinion. Please vote in the poll and feel free to give your opinions about the odds in the comments. Your comments and opinions are always appreciated and welcomed! Ace Capwiz signing off!!