If the news that the Rams and SS James Butler had reached a deal didn't send you to bed with a smile on your face, then the thought that the Rams continued to reshape the team, building a young foundation should have at least given you a pleasant dream or two.
Spagnuolo gets props for the vision and bringing in a guy like Butler to be a leader on the defense...not to mention a guy who can help get it off the ground this season. Devaney and Demoff get credit for working out a smart deal with Butler. After the Yeremiah Bell and Gibril Wilson each signed deals worth $20 million and $27.5 million, respectively, the Rams got Butler (arguably a player with more upside) for a 4-year, $17 million deal. I can't confirm it anywhere, but it's also being reported that the deal includes $3 million in incentives that could push the total to $17 million. Devaney and Demoff have made good use of the incentives this season, giving the players a little (or a lot) or extra motivation to go all out on the field.
Securing Butler adds another building block to a defensive foundation that's starting to really come together. Up front, the Rams have starters Long and Carriker and important role players in Adeyanju and Clifton Ryan, and now, in the secondary, they've got Atogwe, Butler and Bartell that they can build around for years to come.
However, as much progress as this represents, the defense still needs some work, particularly in the middle at NT and MLB, where the Rams really need to add another building block type player. Without that solid presence in the middle, it'll be hard to get the pass rush going and keep opposing running backs from walking down the field. There's also work left to be done in the secondary, rounding out the depth and adding a starting CB opposite Bartell. They might have some interest in retaining Jason Craft, 33, who would provide experienced help a decent nickle. Another solid veteran would offer some insurance in case Wade or Tye Hill don't emerge as starters.
Sando has another look at the Rams secondary as well as a scouting report from Scouts, Inc. on Butler.
Yesterday we speculated that the news free agent FB Mike Karney was coming to town could signal some movement on the Rams free agency front, like a pending deal with Butler. Maybe it did, maybe it didn't, but the wheels are turning again. It's a safe bet to expect the situations with Holt and Pace to be resolved sooner rather than later (obviously on Holt, since he's due a roster bonus on the 17th).