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St. Louis Rams: Odds & Sods - Volume 3

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Thoughts and observations on current events in Ramsland.

With training camp beginning on Monday, it's time to look at some Rams-related items of note, and take a peek at what lies ahead. Let's breathe some life into the slow part of the offseason!

The Rams' Preseason Salary Cap Outlook

In the hours before the regular season begins on September 10, the NFL's salary cap undergo's changes to its rules and accounting procedures. In the offseason, only the top-51 contracts and dead money count against a teams' salary cap. Before the regular season begins, ALL contractual obligations and dead money begin to count against the salary cap. Teams must set aside enough salary cap space to account for the increase in roster size (51 to 53). In addition, teams must allocate salary cap space for the payment of practice squad salaries and for setting up a reserve to pay for players signed to replace those on Injured Reserve during the season.

In each of the past three years, the Rams were forced to create salary cap space at the last minute to satisfy all of the above-mentioned requirements. Although the damage inflicted on the Rams' overall salary cap structure wasn't significant in any of the three years, it's not an ideal way to manage the salary cap on an ongoing basis.

The Rams' current salary cap position suggests the team will not have to scramble this year to fulfil their salary cap obligations. The Rams currently have $6,648,852 in available salary cap space. The season-opening reserve, practice squad salaries, and increased roster size cap hits (51-53) total an estimated $5 million, leaving $1.65 million (notionally) in "surplus" salary cap space.

St. Louis Rams Training Camp Roster & Depth Chart

Since the release of WR Bud Sasser on June 4, the Rams had been carrying only 89 players on their 90-man offseason roster. On July 9, the Rams reached the 90-man limit by selecting OT Isaiah Battle in the NFL Supplemental Draft. Barring any unforeseen circumstances or additional player movement, the roster and depth chart should remain unchanged heading into training camp (the rookies report on July 27).

C Barrett Jones Tim Barnes Demetrius Rhaney David Wang
RG Jamon Brown Garrett Reynolds Brandon Washington
LG Rodger Saffold Cody Wichmann Travis Bond
RT Rob Havenstein Andrew Donnal
LT Greg Robinson Isaiah Battle Steven Baker Darrell Williams
TE Lance Kendricks Cory Harkey Brad Smelley Zach Laskey
TE Jared Cook Alex Bayer Justice Cunningham
WR Brian Quick Damian Williams Devon Wylie Tyler Slavin
WR Tavon Austin Chris Givens Emory Blake Isiah Ferguson
WR Kenny Britt Stedman Bailey Bradley Marquez Daniel Rodriguez
RB Tre Mason Benny Cunningham Chase Reynolds Malcolm Brown
RB Todd Gurley Isaiah Pead Trey Watts Terrence Franks
QB Nick Foles Austin Davis Case Keenum Sean Mannion
PK Greg Zuerlein
P John Hekker Michael Palardy
LS Jake McQuaide Tyler Ott
DT Aaron Donald Nick Fairley
DT Michael Brockers Louis Trinca-Pasat Doug Worthington
DE Chris Long William Hayes Martin Ifedi Matt Longacre
DE Robert Quinn Eugene Sims Ethan Westbrooks
MLB James Laurinaitis Daren Bates Bryce Hager
OLB Alec Ogletree Marshall McFadden Korey Toomer Keshaun Malone
OLB Akeem Ayers Jo-Lonn Dunbar Cameron Lynch
CB Janoris Jenkins Marcus Roberson Brandon McGee Imoan Claiborne
CB Trumaine Johnson E.J. Gaines Lamarcus Joyner Montell Garner
SS T.J. McDonald Mark Barron Maurice Alexander Jacob Hagen
FS Rodney McLeod Cody Davis Christian Bryant Jay Hughes
90 Players

2016 Rams Free Agents

Training camp is right around the corner. Many roster battles will be fought right through to the end of August. Starters will be determined, the 53-man roster will flesh itself out and 10 players will find themselves on the Rams' practice squad. The Rams could have a whopping 21 players eligible for Free Agency in 2016. How much of an impact will that have on the composition of this years final roster and practice squad? Will the Rams keep certain players (or stock certain positions) in anticipation of Free Agent losses?

The accompanying chart presents the 21 players eligible for Free Agency in 2016:

Position Player FA Status
QB Nick Foles UFA
QB Austin Davis RFA
QB Case Keenum RFA
RB Benny Cunningham RFA
RB Isaiah Pead UFA
RB Chase Reynolds RFA
TE Cory Harkey RFA
WR Brian Quick UFA
WR Chris Givens UFA
C Tim Barnes UFA
K Greg Zuerlein UFA
DT Nick Fairley UFA
DE Eugene Sims UFA
DE William Hayes UFA
OLB Jo-Lonn Dunbar UFA
ILB Daren Bates RFA
CB Janoris Jenkins UFA
CB Trumaine Johnson UFA
SS Mark Barron UFA
FS Rodney McLeod RFA
FS Cody Davis RFA

The Canadian Football League

Being a proud Canadian and all, I thought it might be appropriate to give football played in the great white north, namely the CFL, a little plug. Given the dearth of football south of the border at this time of the year, the CFL provides an entertaining alternative for fans clamoring for pigskin action. The CFL has already begun its regular season. No, it's not NFL-calibre football. Hell, it's not even the calibre of football found in many American major college programs. But it sure is fun to watch, and it's pretty wide open football: our playing fields are 10 yards longer and more than 10 yards wider, plus there are only three downs in the CFL (compared to 4 in the NFL).

The CFL has a rich history, with many players using the Canadian game as a springboard to success in the NFL. Among the more notable CFL to NFL players: Rams coach (and 49er QB) Jeff Garcia, QB Joe Kapp, QB Warren Moon, WR "Rocket" Ismail, QB Joe Theismann, DE Cameron Wake and QB Doug Flutie.

Battle Creates More Battles

With 15 players vying for positions on the offensive line, the upcoming roster battles figured to be quite intense. The Rams ratcheted up the intensity a notch by adding a 16th player to the equation, selecting OT Isaiah Battle in the 2015 NFL Supplementary Draft. Now the team has quite the conundrum. How many offensive linemen will the Rams carry on the final 53-man roster? If they keep 10, how will that affect other position groups (like the secondary or offensive backfield) and the special teams units? If they only keep 9 (or fewer), could one of their rookie draft selections be snatched off the practice squad by another team?

Until the addition of Isaiah Battle, I believed the Rams would carry 9 offensive linemen on the roster. Now I believe they could carry up to 10 on the roster. The Rams will keep 2 center's on the final 53 (Tim Barnes and Barrett Jones). Greg Robinson, Rodger Saffold and Garrett Reynolds are virtual locks. Rob Havenstein, Jamon Brown and Andrew Donnal will make the roster by virtue of their 2015 draft status. The frontrunners for the other two positions will likely be Battle and 6th round pick Cody Wichmann.

Training Camp Jargon

Nothing gives me the red ass more than the use of "camp fodder" or "camp body" to describe (mostly young) players heading to training camps, who have little or no chance to make an NFL roster or practice squad. I consider those expressions to be derogatory in nature.

These young roster hopefuls should be respected and applauded, for both their dedication to the game and for having the courage to pursue their dreams and aspirations. Every year, tens of thousands play football on some level in the United States. Only 2,880 players will be entering NFL training camps this month. Just being invited to an NFL training camp is a great achievement.

UDFA Signing Bonuses

Not a year goes by without the Rams signing UDFA's that end up making the roster or practice squad. Who are the UDFA's with the best chance to make the team this year? The ones with the largest signing bonuses are usually a good indicator. The four largest signing bonuses paid to Rams UDFA's last year: Ethan Westbrooks ($20,000), WR Austin Franklin ($17,500 - was released), Marcus Roberson ($15,000) and Alex Bayer ($10,000). The three highest signing bonuses paid this year: DT Louis Trinca-Pasat ($15,000 plus $10,000 base salary guaranteed), RB Malcolm Brown ($8,000) and OT Darrell Williams ($7,500).

Ranking NFL Quarterbacks

How many of the NFL's top QB's will the Rams face in the 2015 regular season? I've ranked who I believe are the top 15 QB's in the league for 2015. The Rams play against 5 of them (6 games) this season: Aaron Rodgers, Russell Wilson (twice), Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Flacco and Matthew Stafford. Can the Rams win at least 4 of those 6 games?

Rank Quarterback Team
1 Aaron Rodgers Green Bay
2 Tom Brady New England
3 Peyton Manning Denver
4 Drew Brees New Orleans
5 Ben Roethlisberger Pittsburgh
6 Andrew Luck Indianapolis
7 Russell Wilson Seattle
8 Philip Rivers San Diego
9 Tony Romo Dallas
10 Joe Flacco Baltimore
11 Matt Ryan Atlanta
12 Eli Manning NY Giants
13 Matthew Stafford Detroit
14 Cam Newton Carolina
15 Ryan Tannehill Miami

Muhammad Ali

Long before the arrival of the internet (and social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram) athletes like Muhammad Ali had already elevated the time-honored tradition of trash-talking to an art form. Today's athletes, particularly NFL players, could learn a thing or two from the master himself. Why say it in 140 characters or less, when you can give it true poetic justice instead?

"Floats like a butterfly...stings like a bee...he forces a fumble...must be Ogletree. (Dubs)"

The Who: Odds & Sods - Long Live Rock