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Looking beyond big bad contracts

At the risk of stating the obvious, the Rams decision to put WR Drew Bennett and WR/KR Dante Hall on Injured Reserve most likely spells the end for both as Rams. We've said as much already.

Both players came at a particularly high cost to the Rams, Bennett a large free agent deal and Dante Hall for a 3rd and 7th round draft pick in 2007, at a time when the depth depleted Rams could have used all the draft picks they could get (could have drafted QB Trent Edwards in the third round). And both players have spent a considerable amount of time with the golden horns injured. They're unpleasant and expensive reminders of a short, bygone era that have already been replaced with younger, cheaper and, particularly in Bennett's case, more talented players (ok, few players are as talented a return man as Dante Hall was in his prime, but this ain't his prime in case you hadn't noticed).

The Rams will be making changes on to their roster this offseason, some of it normal turnover and much of it through the need to build a better team. These two are prime examples of where the Rams can improve by subtraction. Hall's contract runs out at the end of this season, so that's a no brainer. Bennett still has four years on his and cutting him outright will still end up costing the Rams some dollars toward their 2009 cap total. I doubt it's enough to convince Haslett, Devaney, et al to keep the disappointing WR though. Note that LB Chris Draft has a broken foot, like Bennett, but is being counted on to return this season. Some of that has to do with just how thin the Rams are at LB; they are not as thin at WR.

There are two other 2,000 lbs gorillas in the room at Rams Park: Torry Holt and Marc Bulger. Decisions will have to be made about both players. Holt, judging by recent statements as well as offseason remarks, seems to want out. Whether the Rams cut him outright (he's signed through 2009) or trade him remains to be seen. There is always the possibility they keep him, but that really doesn't seem likely at this point. If they do trade him, what kind of return could they expect? Obviously a Roy Williams like haul is out of the question, but a 2nd round pick? 3rd rounder and a second day pick? New England gave Miami a 2nd and 7th rounder for Wes Welker two years ago. This year, the Chargers gave Miami a 2nd round pick for Chris Chambers.

Bulger seems far less likely to go with what the Rams have invested in him, but if he continues to struggle, I have to think they'll at least approach him about restructing his deal or consider parting ways and signing a young(ish) capable starter to lead the offense and draft a QB. At any rate, they should find a QB like that (Matt Cassel gets mentioned a lot) to bring in to replace Green at backup...and push Bulger and/or give them a solution should Bulger continue to struggle.

Other decisions looming? The secondary is a mess, contract-wise, with none of the current starters under contract for next season, except for Hill and Chavous (a likely casualty himself).