St. Louis Rams GM Billy Devaney's chat yesterday revealed very little about the team's offseason plans, like Coach Conners predicted. Heck, the big news of the day - the Rams cutting ticket prices - wasn't even mentioned.
Of course, there's very little Devaney can say right now about the subjects on our minds, free agency, the current roster and the draft. Don't forget it's technically tampering if he discusses free agents on other teams that aren't free agents yet. Devaney did drop two fairly interesting tidbits that give us some idea of the thinking inside Rams Park these days.
First, there was this nugget. When asked when the Rams will start signing and tendering free agents and whether or not the decisions have been made, BD answered:
That will be coming up the first week in March. But the decisions have already been made.
I read two things into this. One, they've done their homework and have made decisions regarding which free agents they'll pursue. Not a huge surprise, since free agency opens up right after the Combine. Secondly, it seems to say that the coaches and front office staff have made decisions about which of the team's restricted free agents and unrestricted free agents they'll make offers to when the time comes. Headlining the RFA list are Atogwe and Alex Barron. Among the unrestricted FAs to watch are DEs James Hall and Leonard Little, one of which is sure to be back in the rotation next year.
I suspect it also means they've reached a decision on the future of Marc Bulger, who is not scheduled to be a free agent of any kind. If the Rams are going to release him, logic says it would happen sooner rather than later in order for Bulger to take advantage of a weak free agent class of QBs. Or retire. I don't think he's coming back at his current salary.
Then there was this bit form Devaney:
We all like the shape of our offensive line. We expect everyone back healthy. We were pleased with the progress that group was making during the season and we expect it to be a strength of the team this year.
That probably gives you a pretty good indication of where they stand on tendering RFA Alex Barron an offer. I'm as lukewarm as most on that news, but the fact of the matter is that Barron's league average play at a discounted rate keeps the Rams from having one more need to fill this season. More to the point, bringing back Barron keeps some of the unit cohesion that the line started to develop until getting decimated with injuries to key starters late in the season.
The Rams allowed 44 sacks this year, one less than 2008 and four fewer than 2007. However, 12 of those sacks, including 8 in the season finale, came in the last two games which the Rams played with only two players from the starting five - Barron and C Jason Brown - that was gelling midway through the season. Without those 12 sacks, the Rams would have been 15th in the league for sacks allowed. That doesn't mean they won't be looking for some more talent for the unit this year.
Things should start happening real soon.