Jim Thomas: 1.) I don’t know if that’s the case. If free agency does indeed take place after the draft, who knows what the player pool will be like. Will it go back to the old system of free agency? Will there be a cap? And for how much? With all that up in the air, teams might draft more for need.
2.) This does make some sense. If you don’t fill a need in the draft, you might be forced to overpay for a need in free agency.
nick49: Hey Jim:
1)Since we both are union workers,we know whats going on between the two parties is just posturing.And the main issue is money.Who gets what and how much,correct? So why would they want to risk stopping the money train that they BOTH are benefiting from?
2)Do you feel this will be the year that the Rams bring in a speed back?
3)And maybe I didnt ask this correctly,but if the Rams targeted Sydney Rice as the best wr,but couldnt sign him,who would you prefer,Santonio Holmes,Vince Jackson or a tier 2 receiver like James Jones?

Jim Thomas: 1.) You would think this would be the case. But it really seems like the owners are digging their heels in.
2.) We can only hope, right?
3.) I think Holmes and Jackson would be very tempting. Ideally I’d prefer Jackson, but I think he’ll be more expensive than Holmes. Maybe much more expensive.
gdarby: What are the percent chances of these happening?

1. Bradford throws for 4,000+ yards.
2. If Danario avoids another knee injury, he gets 1,000 yards.
3. The rams have 5 or more new starters on offense/defense next year.
4. 8-8 is good enough to win the division next year.

Jim Thomas: 1.) 40-60
2.) 60-40
3.) 70-30
4.) 55-45
Lawarence Marmie: What happens if an underclassmen declares for the draft and gets and agent, but the CBA negotiations fall through and the owners lock the players out? Will those underclassmen be able to return to school? If not, do you know if that’s affecting whether or not some players will come out?

Jim Thomas: No, I’m told once underclassmen declare (and hire an agent) they cannot return to college (as players). That threat evidently didn’t hamper players from coming out because 56 players turned pro which I believe was more than last season.
bjsgolf: Jim,
What do you think the chances are of the following retired Rams to make the NFL Hall of Fame? I have attached my % estimate:
Marshall Faulk – 100%
Kurt Warner – 99%
Orlando Pace – 90%
Isaac Bruce – 85%
Torry Holt – 75%
Dick Vermeil – 50%
Aeneas Williams – 10%
Adam Timmerman – 5%
Grant Wistrom – 2%
London Fletcher – 1% (but he is an all time underrated player)

Jim Thomas: Interesting question. I do think you’ve hit on the big five in Faulk, Warner, Pace, Bruce and Holt. I think all five are deserving but all five might not get in. Had the Rams won that second Super Bowl it would’ve helped the cause of all five. I do think Williams has a better chance than 10 percent. I think he made seven Pro Bowls, it’s just that most of his best work was down with Arizona at a time when the Cardinals weren’t very good.
Barf333: Do you think there will be any effort/acknowledgement by the players union and the owners to lower the cost of viewing their product (tickets, direct tv, etc…)to the paying customer as they hammer out the new CBA? One would hope they are not completely blind to the “real world” economy that currently exists.

Jim Thomas: Probably not. I see that some teams are freezing ticket prices. But I don’t think the price of attending games will every go down.
George.M: Hi, Jim – with a new offensive coordinator, how much movement will we likely see in offensive assistant coaches:
1. All
2. Most
3. Some
4. A few
5. None

Jim Thomas: I don’t think we’ll see any change unless the Rams hire a QB coach to take Curl’s job. I think it’s a pretty strong group over on offense with good experience in Sylvester Croom (RBs), Nolan Cromwell (WRs), Frank Leonard (TEs), and Steve Loney (OLs).
Peter: If Flajole gets a head coaching opportunity, do you see Paul Ferraro taking over as Defensive Coordinator? he has alot of experience as Defensive Coordinator and this will be his 3rd year as Linebackers coach.

Jim Thomas: Possibly. Spags knows Ferraro very well, back to their days together at Springfield (Mass.) College. I think they might have even been roommates. But Flajole isn’t going anywhere this year.
RamsDraftGuru: I was looking at the draft prospects at WR. I have a concern that both Green and Jones will be gone before we pick. Im not sure Baldwin is a 14th pick. I think the Rams could think the same and take another position. Then im not sure he will still be there for the next pick. By then we will be looking at borderline 2nd round to 3rd round talent at WR. So my concern is we wont take one til the 3rd round because of value.

Personally i think the roster has plenty of those types on it all ready. I know this is a fair amounts of what ifs but i can see it happening.
Its for this reason i think we would be wise to go after a high profile free agent WR.So do you think that this senario could actually happen? If you do what are the chances we get a new CBA and a top free agent WR? Who would you go after and why?

Greg, Sikeston, Mo

Jim Thomas: It is possible that both Green and Jones could be gone. Green certainly won’t last. As far as Jones still being there at No. 14, I think a lot dependes on two factors: 1.) How many quarterbacks go early. There are a lot of QB needy teams in the top 15. Will they stretch in some cases for QBs? 2.) How many defensive linemen go early? D-linemen, particularly pass rushers always seem to be overvalued in the draft.

So the more QBs and DLs go early, the more Jones might still be there at 14. If not, I think you’re right about the WR position this year. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of elite-quality talent at the top of the draft. If that’s the case, it might put more pressure on the Rams to get something done in free agency.
Buzz: Jim,
I was wondering about coaches who have spent their entire careers coaching in the west coast system, specifically Nolan Cromwell. Will it be a difficult transition for him into the Josh McDaniels system? Do you coach the receivers differently in a new system, other than the patterns they will be running? Is Cromwell ok with the change, or will he be looking to leave when the right opportunity comes along? Some receivers are more effective in one system and run some routes much better than others. Isn’t it the same with some coaches, that they are unable or unwilling to change what they have always done? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: From a coaching standpoint and a receiver standpoint, I don’t think it will be much of a change other than terminolgy in the playbook. Why? Because at the end of the day, there are only so many pass routes you can run. I mean a crossing route is a cross route, a deep route a deep route, a hitch-and-go a hitch-and-go, etc. As for Cromwell, I think he did a very good job with the receiver corps. I feel safe in saying that Spags hopes Cromwell is around for a while.
rmg91: JT, With Cincinnati and Cleveland possibly taking wide receivers in the upcoming draft with their first picks (A.J. Green and Julio Jones?), would the Rams then consider OLB (Von Miller or Akeem Ayers) as a potential first round choice? Also, any news about Josh McD prepping Bradford on his new system? Thanks.

Jim Thomas: I think the Rams would be delighted to see Miller still around at No. 14 overall. Now he’s basically been a go get the QB type – a pass rusher only – in college, so having him cover and play the run at an OLB spot in a 4-3 might take some projecting. Then again, Leonard Little started out as an OLB and turned into quite the pass-rushing DE.
Tackleberry: Any chance Lovie & Mad Mike will dig up Bulger’s phone number this off-season?

Jim Thomas: Interesting. I think Mike would love to ring up Bulger, but I don’t think the feeling is mutual.
Luiz_BR: 1.In your opinion, what´s the 4 positions most needed to improve?

2.If there´s no great choices on WR on the #14, what would you do?

Jim Thomas: 1.) WR, OLB, OG, and either No. 2 RB or DT.
2.) I think you go the old BPA route _ best player available, be it OLB, pass rusher, DT, or what if Alabama RB Mark Ingram is there?
Joe: Your thoughts on Oregon’s Casey Mathews(Clay Mathews)… does he fit the Spags scheme and is at all like his brother?

Jim Thomas: Looking at Casey’s long hair, I think the Mathews family has an aversion to haircuts. (And I say this in good humor, since my youngster son – my eighth-grader has shoulder length hair.) I’m told Casey isn’t as athletically gifted as Clay but is still a good prospect. I’m pretty sure, though, that he’s an inside ‘backer, and as long as the Rams are running a 4-3 scheme and Laurinaitis is around, there won’t be a need for another MLB.
COGzilla: I thought Diggs actually played better at the end of the year. Is SAM a priority or do they think they can squeeze another year out of him?

I know the staff really liked Hull before he got hurt. Any chance of him competing for a SAM spot or is he purely a back-up to James and a special teamer?

Jim Thomas: My sense is that the Rams try to squeeze another year out of Diggs. Usually the Rams, and other teams I’m sure, like backups to play more than one position. So I’ll be curious to see if Hull gets some work at SAM during the spring workouts (if there are spring workouts.)
Travis: What are the chances that the Rams make a big splash in FA (whenever it happens)? I know everyone talks receiver, however I am hoping they make a play for Reggie Bush since it is likely he gets cut. Do you think that would be a move they would be inclinded to make? Backup SJ, returner, and can defintely catch the football and make plays.

Jim Thomas: We’ll see. I think we’re all anxious to see what unfolds during Kroenke’s first offseason as Rams controlling owner.
Kenny H.: Jim, does the change in offensive system doom Mardy Gilyard’s chances for success? He was apparently unable to learn last year’s offense well enough to get on the field much. Won’t hitting the reset button further damage his prospects? Or is it thought that his skills will be better utilized in the new offense?

For the WR group in general, I know many think that a free agent #1 WR is the way to go, but that will also defer judgement on some of the younger guys. I’m not Donnie Avery’s biggest fan, but it seems like the Rams have already committed to giving him another shot. Do you think the Rams will stand pat at WR, other than maybe a middle round draft pick? The Pats had their greatest success with a group of mediocre WRs.

Jim Thomas: Learning an entirely new terminology won’t help. But assuming there’s a normal offseason, having an entire spring and summer to learn a new offense should help Gilyard.
If you could sit here and say that Avery and Alexander and Clayton (if re-signed) can stay healthy, maybe that alters how you feel about the receiver corps. But what guarantee do we have that that will happen?
STLSkeptic: Hey Jim,
1)Much was made of the Rams’ tendency toward a short passing game this past year and many are calling for a more aggressive, downfield passing attack. Do you think our OT’s success in protecting Bradford was, in large part, due to this short passing game? Do you think they are capable of protecting Bradford for long enough to develop a deeper passing attack?
2)I know the likelihood that the entirety of the 2011 season will be missed due to the lockout, but if it is, will the ‘ll schedule rollover to the 2012 season?
3)In your opinion, how much of the Rams’ improvement on offense was due to the health of the offensive line?
4)Do you think the fact that a lockout will most likely seriously hinder the Rams in their rebuilding process temper Kroenke’s (and other owners of rebuilding teams) desire to play hardball with the NFLPA?

Jim Thomas: 1.) I’m sure that contributed to it, particularly early in the season.
2.) Don’t know the answer to this one. I think everyone is hoping it doesn’t come to that.
3.) Great point. And not only the line. The Rams got 79 of a possible 80 starts from the line, their QB took part in every snap, and their feature back (Sjax) played in all 16 games. It doesn’t happen very often like that, and I don’t think you can just assume it will happen like that next season.
4.) Don’t know the answer. but it didn’t prevent them from going out and getting Josh McDaniels as OC.
Larry: 3 part question…
1) I see that there will a draft this yr but will there be a free agency period if no new contract is signed?
2) To me the top 4 areas the rams need help at are wr/og/lb/rb..what free agents are out there that the rams may interested in and could help the rams
3) which of the rams free agents are the rams interested in resigning?

Jim Thomas: 1.) No, there will be no free agency without a collective bargaining agreement.
Give me another week or two on questions 2 and 3.
D_Roks30: Hi Jim…great to have this chat to get through the off season…txs. I have been trying to avoid these Labor Agreement issues as it makes me completely frustrated that this comes up so often in several sports (get paid for playing sport and there’s some type of problem?). Could you, in basic terms, explain the conflict and provide what you might feel that will happen.

Jim Thomas: The owners hastily approved an extension of the labor agreement in March 2006. Tagliabue was ready to step down as commissioner and wanted to have a labor agreement in place as a final feather in his cap. The night the CBA was approved, I remember John Shaw telling me he thought it was a bad deal for the owners.
The owners basically think they gave up too much money to the players in the last agreement. With all the stadium contruction over the past 10 years, lots of owners have a lot of debt to manage. Also some of the new guard owners such as Jerry Jones and Dan Snyder don’t necessarily like the idea of sharing money with the less profitable franchise. On the players’ side, I think they basically like the system as it is. The players keep saying if finances are so dire for the league, then show us the books _ club by club _ so we can see if things really are as bad as you’re saying. The league has been unwilling to do so.
Ruben: With OJ’s bonus due before 3/4/11, do you think the Rams will release him, pay him or try and renegotiate before 3/4/11. I believe the price is right for OJ as is, especially, since the bonus counts for 2010. Do you know if Bradford and Mc Daniels have met or spoke regarding new playbook, specifics or generalities?

Jim Thomas: Atogwe’s bonus actually is due on Feb. 21, so it’s coming up quickly. Maybe the Rams can renegotiate how the $8 million is paid, or even ask Atogwe to take less than the $8 million. But with several holes elsewhere, it’s hard to imagine the team creating another one by releasing Atogwe unless they’re confident they can re-sign him anyway.
I know McDaniels and Bradford spoke almost immiediately after Bradford was hired but I don’t know if they’ve spoken since.

I’m in between practices here at the Senior Bowl and have to head out to the South squad practice. Sorry we’re so brief today. Talk to you next week from the Super Bowl…..

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