Rams happy to bring Saffold back
--The NFL announced each team's preseason schedule without precise dates or times, except for national TV games and the final preseason week in which all games will be on Thurs. Aug. 28. Week 1 games are Aug. 7-10, Week 2 Aug. 14-18 and Week 3 Aug. 21-24.
The Rams will play at home against New Orleans in Week 1 and Green Bay in Week 2, while going on the road to play at Cleveland in Week 3 and Miami in Week 4.
--Free agent wide receiver Kenny Britt and the Rams agreed to a one-year, $1.4 million contract, including $550,000 guaranteed, ESPN.com reported Monday. The maximum value of the deal is $2.9 million including incentives, a source told ESPN.com.
Britt and Rams head coach Jeff Fisher will reunite in St. Louis. Fisher was the head coach of the Tennessee Titans when they selected Britt in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. Fisher coached Britt for two years.
Last season, the Titans largely phased Britt out of their offense. He had 11 catches for 96 yards and no touchdowns but caught 16 scoring passes in the previous three seasons combined.
Britt suffered a torn ACL early in 2010 and caused the Titans headaches with multiple off-the-field incidents. His best two seasons were with Fisher when he had 42 receptions for 701 yards in his rookie year and 42-775 with nine touchdowns in 2010. His average per catch those years was 16.7 and 18.5. He did have 45 receptions for 589 yards (13.1-yard average) and four touchdowns in 2012.
Britt is 6-2, 223 and will be 26 in September.
--The Rams were awarded three compensatory picks in this year's NFL draft Monday, but there remains a major question why running back Steven Jackson was not included among the players lost by the Rams or players added by the Atlanta Falcons.
Rams sources were unsure early Tuesday if it was merely an omission by the NFL or if Jackson was not included in the formula that determines how many and what picks are awarded. Analyzing the picks the Rams and Falcons received, it appears Jackson was not included, and that was a mystery.
It is true that Jackson did not become an unrestricted free agent in usual fashion. Unlike most players whose contracts simply expire, the final year of Jackson's deal was voided by the player. However, Jackson was included in the list of unrestricted free agents the league circulated at the start of the 2013 league year. And, when he signed with the Falcons in mid-March, according to league sources, his addition on the league personnel wire was listed under the category of unrestricted free agents.
Players released by a team do not count in the compensatory pick system, but Jackson wasn't cut.
Teams are awarded compensatory choices when they lose more free agents than they gained, and the formula assigns picks based on contract value and playing time/performance.
The Rams received a sixth-round pick and two seventh-round picks for losing wide receivers Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, safety Craig Dahl and center/guard Robert Turner, while adding tight end Jared Cook and tackle Jake Long.
The Falcons received a fourth-round pick and two seventh-round choices for losing cornerback Brent Grimes, quarterback Luke McCown, cornerback Christopher Owens, tackle Will Svitek and defensive tackle Vance Walker. Atlanta's one signing was defensive end Osi Umenyiora.
It would seem the Falcons might have received less valuable picks had Jackson been included.
The mystery was solved when league sources indicated that Jackson was not considered an unrestricted free agent for purposes of compensatory picks because the ability for Jackson to void was added to the deal in the final year.
Had Jackson reached the original contract incentives that would have enabled the final two years of his contract to naturally void, it would have qualified in the compensatory pick formula.
--As is usually the case in the rush to report details when NFL free agents sign, the actual value of Rams guard Rodger Saffold's contract is different from what was originally reported.
When Saffold re-signed with the Rams last week for five years, the numbers circulated were $31.7 million with $19.5 million guaranteed.
The actual cash value of the total deal is $31,347,233 million, not including escalators that are included in the contract. The actual money fully guaranteed is $11 million, although there is an additional $8.5 million of base salaries that are currently guaranteed for injury only, but become fully guaranteed if he is on the Rams' roster on the third day of the league year in 2015 and 2016.
The $11 million guarantee, $8 million of which will be paid this year, includes a $5 million signing bonus, $3 million base salary this year and a $3 million roster bonus in 2015. The other $8.5 million is split between base salaries of $4 million in 2015 and $4.5 million in 2016.
The final base salaries are $4,722,233 in 2017 and $5 million in 2018. In addition, there are $375,000 total roster bonuses in 2016, 2017 and 2018 that will be paid on a per-game ($23,438.50) basis.
The cap charge for Saffold's contract this year is $4 million, which is based on his base salary plus $1 million of prorated signing bonus. For the remainder of the contract, assuming he receives all salaries and bonuses, but doesn't trigger any escalators, the cap hit is $8 million in 2015; $5.875 million in 2016; $6,097,233 in 2017; and $7.375 million in 2018
Most attractive to Saffold is the ability he has to void the final two years or the final year of the contract if he reaches unknown incentives. Should Saffold be able to stay healthy, establish himself as a Pro-Bowl guard as the Rams believe he can and hits those incentives in the next three seasons, he could be a free agent again when he is still just 29 years old.
He would likely to do much better than those final two years of salaries if he was on the market again. Of course, there are also those escalators in his contract that would increase his salaries after the 2014 season should he reach certain incentives.
How much those salaries increase, if they do, could affect his decision whether to exercise his right to void those final two years.
--After guard Harvey Dahl was released with the designation failed physical, coach Jeff Fisher told the Post-Dispatch, "We have expressed to Harvey that we have interest in bringing him back. Harvey's done great things for this organization and this team, and was a mainstay of our offensive line the last two years.
"Harvey's going to work very hard to get through his rehab. And we agreed that when he was healthy, we would talk."
His release saves the Rams $4 million against the cap, but there is no dead money because 2014 was the final year of his contract and his original deal did not include a signing bonus.
Whether he returns could depend on what transpires in free agency and the draft.
--The Rams will have an extra $3 million in salary-cap space this year thanks to the offset language written into cornerback Cortland Finnegan's contract and the fact his new contract with the Miami Dolphins calls for $5.5 million to be paid this year. Of course, he will only net $2.5 million of that.
Finnegan's Rams contract included a guaranteed roster bonus of $3 million for 2014, but would be offset if he was released by what he earns this year.
His two-year deal with the Dolphins totals $11 million and includes a $2 million signing bonus, $3.5 million guaranteed salary in 2014, $5.45 million salary in 2015 and workout bonuses of $25,000 each year.
It would seem the Rams should get an immediate cap credit of at least $2 million for the signing bonus, but might have to wait for the remaining $1 million until he is actually paid even though it is guaranteed.
A Rams source said it "yet to be determined" when the credit will occur, while adding, "The timing isn't really relevant since we know we will get it at some point."
--The Rams' linebacking corps is intact after the re-signing of linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar and he counts just $879,978 against this year's salary cap.
Dunbar, who became the team's strong-side linebacker after returning from a four-game suspension last season, signed a two-year contract worth $2.006 million with just $128,821 guaranteed in the form of a roster bonus he will receive on the 20th day of the league year (March 30).
There is also a roster bonus of $125,521 scheduled to be paid on the second day of the 2015 league year, but it is not guaranteed. His base salaries are $751,157 this year and $999,999 in 2015.
Dunbar can also make just over a total of $1.44 million in the two years if he reaches all of the incentives in the deal, which is for playing time, playing time and wins, and playing time and the Rams making the playoffs. The maximum total is $720,022 in both years.
He can also void the final year of the contract by Feb. 14, 2015 if, during the 3014 season, he plays 50 percent of the defensive snaps or the Rams make the playoffs.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
So much for quarterback Mark Sanchez coming to the Rams. After coach Jeff Fisher acknowledged interest in Sanchez earlier in the week, the Rams finally closed the deal on the backup they wanted all along, signing Shaun Hill to a one-year contract worth a reported $1.75 million.
Hill, who turned 34 in January, had been with the Lions the last four seasons after previously playing for San Francisco and Minnesota. While with the 49ers, current Rams quarterbacks coach Frank Cignetti was an assistant and former Rams coach Mike Martz was the offensive coordinator. The current Rams offensive system has the same language as what Martz used.
The Rams tried to sign Hill in 2012, but he opted to remain with Detroit where he was comfortable with offensive coordinator Scott Linehan. But Linehan moved on to Dallas this offseason when the Lions' staff was fired after the season.
The Hill addition came one day after the Rams signed former Buffalo Bills defensive lineman Alex Carrington, who started the first three games of the 2013 season at left end before missing the remainder of the year because of a torn quadriceps.
The 6-5, 301-pound Carrington should provide versatility inside and outside, similar to the roles played by William Hayes and Eugene Sims, although Carrington is expected to mostly be a part of the tackle rotation.
--To say the least, the Rams signing of former Florida State cornerback and punt returner Greg Reid is an intriguing one.
Reid played three seasons in college, and as a true freshman averaged 18.4 yards on punt returns with a touchdown. He wasn't big at 5-8, 178, but he often played big. Check out youtube for a hit on then-South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore in the 2010 Chick-Fil-A Bowl in which Reid was named Defensive Player of the Game.
He has excellent speed, outstanding ball instincts and will also play the run.
Unfortunately, he also had off-the-field issues. Reid was suspended for a game in 2011 for a violation of team rules and was then dismissed from the team for his senior season after an August, 2012, arrest for possession of marijuana and driving with a suspended license.
He enrolled at Valdosta State in his hometown and promptly suffered a torn ACL. He was working out prior to the 2013 draft when he tore the ACL again and needed another surgery.
Now, he is trying again, and the Rams signed him to a three-year contract after he participated in Florida State's Pro Day March 18 and a workout at Rams headquarters a few days later. While the deal is for three years, there is no guaranteed money and each year's salary is at the league minimum: $420,000; $510,000 and $600,000.
Observers said Reid "looked like the old Greg Reid," and he told FoxSports Florida, "I'm blessed to be here. And I'm blessed to feel the way I feel."
Head coach Jeff Fisher was impressed after orchestrating the private workout.
Fisher told the Post-Dispatch, "He was very productive in college before he had his issues. His issues are behind him. I personally ran the workout because the coaches were on vacation.
"I thought he moved well. He understood things. He's got a chance to compete at the nickel corner spot. Outstanding returner, not that we have a need. But had outstanding returns earlier in his career."
After signing his contract, Reid tweeted, "At church right now... & just wanna say I'm proud to be in the Rams Organization! God is good..."
The time away from the game as well as his mistakes humbled Reid, who said, "I believe I'm a better man than I was two or three years ago."
Florida State safety Terrence Brooks, who was in the Pro Day, said of Reid, "He was a person I looked up to when I first came in. Kind of wanted to model my game like him and the things he did. He still has it, too. I hope somebody takes a chance on him because they are going to get a good guy."
Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher told FoxSports Florida, "That's as instinctive and one of the best football players I've ever been around. I think if somebody gets him in camp, they're going to be very happy."
Rams general manager Les Snead told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "Their head coach signed off on him. Gave him the thumbs up as a person you want to invest in. Any time a player goes back to his pro day after, let's call it a celebrated career gets derailed a little bit, it shows his hunger, passion for the game. We'll give it a shot."
The Rams hope they will be and it's certainly worth a shot at a position where the Rams need depth. Yes, he hasn't played since the end of the 2011 season, and he will be 24 in September. But the talent is there and he will be able to begin offseason workouts with the team on April 21.
--The Reid situation became murky when word came that he was arrested March 29 for violating his probation resulting from the 2012 arrest. Tuesday, he was still in jail and being held without bond.
Reid was a passenger in a car that was stopped because the driver wasn't wearing a seat belt. Some reports indicated Reid initially lied about his name, providing the name of his brother. His brother had an active arrest warrant, as did Reid. One report said the warrant was out because he had missed contact with his probation officer.
--SAFETY: T.J. McDonald was a solid pick in 2013, but more depth is needed, especially after Darian Stewart departed and if Matt Giordano doesn't return. Rodney McLeod started last season, but the Rams are trying to improve at that spot.
--OFFENSIVE LINE: Tackle Jake Long is coming back from an ACL injury. Guard Harvey Dahl was released and guard Chris Williams left for Buffalo. Even with the re-signing of Rodger Saffold, the Rams could be looking hard at the tackle spot for the future.
--CORNERBACK: Depth is needed on a unit that currently has Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson the starters and Brandon McGee the likely nickel back. There is a need following the release of Cortland Finnegan.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS (not tendered offers)
--CB Quinton Pointer (not tendered as ERFA) contributed on special teams during his brief stint on the active roster.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--S Matt Giordano provides rare experience at the safety spot and contributed on special teams. He could return at the veteran minimum.
--QB Brady Quinn ended the season on injured reserve because of a back problem and would be considered an extreme longshot to be re-signed.
--LB Will Witherspoon could be at the end of the line. He was signed last summer after the Jo-Lonn Dunbar suspension was announced, and rarely played from scrimmage after he returned.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--C Tim Barnes (tendered at $570,000) started and held his own late in the season when Scott Wells was injured.
--WR Justin Veltung (tendered at $495,000) was added to the roster from the practice squad when Tavon Austin missed time at the end of the season. He has shown some ability as a punt returner and could compete for a roster spot.
--QB Austin Davis: ERFA; $570,000/1 yr.
--LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar: UFA; $2.006M/2 yrs, $128,821 guaranteed.
--G Rodger Saffold: UFA; $31.347M/5 yrs, $5M SB/$19.5M partially guaranteed/$11M fully guaranteed.
--WR Kenny Britt: UFA Titans; $1.4M/1 yr, $550,000 guaranteed.
--DL Alex Carrington: UFA Bills; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--QB Shaun Hill: UFA Lions; $1.75M/1 yr, $500,000 guaranteed.
--QB Kellen Clemens: UFA Chargers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--G Harvey Dahl (released).
--CB Cortland Finnegan (released).
--TE Mike McNeill: Not tendered as RFA/Panthers; $1.52M/2 yr, $100,000 SB.
--G Shelley Smith: UFA Dolphins; $5.5M/2yrs, $500,000/SB/$1.5M guaranteed.
--S Darian Stewart: UFA Ravens; 1 yr, terms unknown.
--G Chris Williams: UFA Bills; $13.5M/4 yrs, $5.5M guaranteed.
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