It's long been taken as a simple matter of fact that the St. Louis Rams would part ways with veteran cornerback Cortland Finnegan and his $10 million cap hit this season. Head coach Jeff Fisher has other ideas.
Speaking Friday afternoon at the NFL Scouting Combine, Fisher was asked about Finnegan's status. He said that he expected Finnegan back for the team's offseason program.
That comment had many doing a double take, based on conventional wisdom. Injuries kept Finnegan on the shelf most of last season, and he's slowed down considerably since signing a five-year, $50 million contract with the Rams in 2012. Given the team's tight cap situation, his contract looked like a no-brainer for freeing up space.
But then came reports about a potential restructure, more specifically a pay cut for Finnegan. Fisher's comments certainly make that seem like a more probable route for Finnegan's future with the team.
On the other hand, Fisher is being technically correct. Finnegan's recovering from an injury, and is under contract for three more seasons. He may very well expect him to be ready for OTAs ... unless they cut him first. At the very least, Fisher isn't going to tip his hand about the possibility of cutting a player. He never has in two prior seasons with the Rams.
Fisher's loyalty to his guys is rare, even in a league where nepotism's the rule. Sometimes it's a helpful trait, but it can also be costly, like if, say the team used cap space on a corner whose career is in rapid decline.