Jim Thomas’ Rams Chat Highlights: Mar. 4

JT’s Chat Highlights

—They do not need to shed any of the big 3 contracts. In fact, as I’m writing for Wednesday, the cap numbers of Long and Laurinaitis drop considerable after 2014. By design, not coincidence.

—Long is 28; Laurinaitis 27. So I think they both should have several years of good football left. Long’s contracts expires after the 2016 season, so he’ll be 31 by then. Laurinaitis has four more years on his contract, so he’ll also be 31 when his contract expires.

—I’m not sure the Rams will pursue Byrd. I would be surprised if they didn’t pursue Verner.

—J.Long Back For Game 1? Rams seem fairly optimistic. I’m thinking he might miss a game or two. So I’d say 47 to 53 (percent) he’s back on opening day.

—During his Fisher’s interview before being hired the Rams brought up the relocation topic and asked a few questions to Fisher about what the relocation process with Houston/Tennessee. And it made him a little uneasy.

—I’ve been suggesting a second-rounder (plus a swap of 1s) in any Atlanta trade as only a hypothetical for instance. I don’t know if the Rams would get more from the Falcons. It depends largely on how badly the Falcons want to move up for Clowney. As for the Vikings, I’m not sure the Rams want to move back that far (to No. 8 overall).

—Quick did improve noticeably as a blocker over the second half of the season. (As did the WR unit as a whole.) The Rams suspected it would be kind of a slow-go on Quick for several reasons. But I think we’ve all got to see something out of him in Year 3.

—Sign A Vet OG if Saffold Leaves? Although it’s generally considered a weak guard class in free agency, you could throw Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah on that list as well. And what you’re suggesting could very well happen if Saffold doesn’t re-sign with STL.

—The $10 million of cap space I tweeted about on Friday was based on NFLPA figures, which are normally very reliable. But I’ve also seen $7-8 million floated out there by normally reliable sources as well. But yes, I think both Verner and Saffold can be done.

—I know there are people at Rams Park who really like Clowney, but it’s not like I put that name in my first mock knowing that would be the pick. And the mock assumes there is no trade down. I also want to point out that you can have as many as four defensive ends on the field at one time; as opposed to one quarterback.

—Finnegan Returns at lower salary? That’s what the Rams must decide. All indications are that if he returns, he probably plays nickel back. I think Finnegan deserves at least some slack because he was injured 3/4ths of the season because of that eye injury.

—The Rams can only hope the disarray continues and intensifies. I’m sure before all is said and done, Kaepernick will be under contract as a 49er. Who knows what happens with Harbaugh and Baalke.

—Fisher is on record as saying he would like to bring Chris Williams back. Wells is under contract; he’s not a free agent. You’d like to think Clemens would be back (and not precluding drafting a QB). I think Giordano might be back for a modest amount because of his special teams value. Not sure on Dunbar. As I mentioned before, I don’t think the Rams would extend themselves contract wise on Dunbar.

—Wells Return at $1 Mil? Always a possibility. Keep in mind though, Wells played pretty well when healthy. I don’t think he’d want a reduction to say $1 million. I’m sure he’d rather test the market.

—Jones As Starter? He played a few snaps on special teams late in the year, but other than preseason games, that’s it. But with a strong offseason, yeah, I think he could compete for a job if Wells isn’t back.

—Jones At OG? He could be in the mix. He worked a lot at guard on the practice field during the season.

—Who Most Impressed You at the Combine? OK off top of my head: Taylor Leewan, Henry Josey, Sammy Watkins, Greg Robinson, Kony Ealy. This is in no particular order. This is based both on interviews and workouts. (And I’m sure media interviews aren’t part of the evaluation by NFL teams?) I would give honorable mention to Justin Gilbert, Jadeveon Clowney, and a few others. If we’re just basing it on workouts _ at least the part of the workout Clowney did _ he’d be the gold medalists.

—I do think Josey gets drafted, and I’m gonna say somewhere in rounds 5-7. I think he’d be an ideal chance of pace back for the Rams. He’s very fast, tough, and obviously has shown great perseverance in overcoming that injury. He’d have to work on pass-catching and blocking.

—Clowney, Robinson, Watkins for the 1st Pick? You know, I’d have to say those are the three. Although I think the Rams like Leewan a lot (but that would have to be in a trade-down scenario).

—Lewan at #13? It looks doubtful. I think he’s back end of top 10. But it’s not impossible. For that to happen, the TE Ebron would have to go in the top 12, and maybe one of the top corners (Dennard/Gilbert) or one of the top safeties (Pryor/Dix).

—I don’t see Houston taking Clowney. But if they do, don’t you think that strengthens the possibility that some team will want to trade up to No. 2 overall to get the first QB in the draft?

—Why Not Pursue Byrd? No. 1. I think the Rams would rather draft a safety. No. 2, I don’t think they want to spend a ton on that position in free agency.

—Again, my taking Clowney was based on a non-tradeout at No. 2, and wasn’t made with a great degree of certainty. As one of the chatters mentioned earlier, Clowney, Robinson, and Watkins all look like worthy picks if the Rams get “stuck” at No. 2 overall.

—I think I’d stay away from Britt. Too much baggage. And I doubt if Johnson is going anywhere on the cheap. And from his statements in Tennessee, would he be willing to share the backfield with Stacy or anyone else?

—I think the OT well _ at least in terms of guys on paper who can be Day 1 starter _ will dry up fairly early in Round 1. All indications are that WRs could go into Round 3. And I’m not sure on safeties, although there are certainly guys available in Round 2.

—Fisher made it pretty clear at the combine that guard is the preferred position for Saffold in STL. So I think the Rams might still look for a tackle, although maybe with Saffold back it wouldn’t necessarily have to be in Round 1.

—The last time I talked to Demoff, he said a new Rams uniform might be considered in the near future. (By that, a couple years down the road.) I think he said he liked the 60s blue & white, but didn’t say he was in favor of that look. (Like the laundry reference.)

—Hakeem Nicks? That’s a tough one. He’s still only 26, but his production has declined dramatically in the past 2 years. What’s up with that? And does he want to be paid as the Hakeem Nicks from a few years ago, or the Hakeem Nicks of 2012 and ’13?

—Pettis? He’s still on the roster and still under contract, and has a cap friendly contract. Don’t see why the Rams wouldn’t bring him to camp no matter what happens in offseason/draft at WR. And you’re right, he did seem to see more passes with Bradford at QB. Then again, Pettis’ playing time dropped once Bailey started playing, so you can’t necessarily blame Clemens.

—I did a radio hit on Sirius over the weekend._ a show with a national perspective _ and the host was kind of puzzled as to why the Rams even would consider taking a WR high. (Bear with me, don’t rush off to the next reply.) He pointed out that the Rams passed the ball less after switching to a run-first approach and that they were playing with their backup QB more than half of the season. He was a guy I respect, it got me wondering if that was a true view of the Rams’ WRs from afar. So do the Rams’ “bet” on improvement from within or keep adding potential playmakers? That’s the question the team must answer, between now and the draft.

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