GM Billy Devaney and the rest of the St. Louis Rams front office have another busy offseason ahead of them, continuing the process of building a winning team. Fortunately, the Rams do not have many big contract issues on the current roster to deal with this season, but in the near future they have two players due for big pay days. DE Chris Long and MLB James Laurinaitis are both scheduled to be free agents after the 2012 season.
RIght now, Long and Laurinaitis are still playing under their original rookie contracts. That makes each of them a relative bargain. Drafted second overall in 2008, Long signed a five-year contract worth $48 million with $22.385 guaranteed. He's due a base salary of $1.835 million this year and $2.56 million next year. Laurainaitis, the Rams second round pick last year, signed a four-year $5.09 million contract with $3.29 guaranteed. He's due a base salary of $500,000 next year and $620,000 the year after.
Obviously, the Rams can't afford to let either player walk away from the team. It's probably a little soon to start talking contract extension/new deal right now, especially with all of the uncertainty around the labor situation. By the end of next season, a conversation should definitely start. It's a situation the Rams haven't had to deal with for a while given the ineptitude of the previous front office. The Zygmunt-led Rams and Steven Jackson went down to the wire in 2008, with Jackson missing a big part of training camp before a new deal was finished.
When you look at the Rams contract situations, 2013 is a big year. Besides Long and Laurinaitis, both current starting cornerbacks, Ron Bartell and Bradley Fletcher, will be free agents that year. So will K Josh Brown. Drafting depth, potential replacements for free agents, will be a top priority for Devaney and Spagnuolo this year and beyond.