Updated @ 2:25 pm
Rams agree to terms with 4th round pick cornerback, Justin King (3 year deal). That just leaves Donnie Avery as the last pick to be signed.
Updated @ 11:51 am - Chris Long's Contract Details
The official numbers are in regarding the contract signed by defensive end Chris Long, and as is often the case, the reality is a different than some early reports. Thanks to Adam Caplan of scout.com for assisting with the contract terms.
Contract totals are inflated these days by including incentives or contract escalators that might not be earned. The best way to characterize contracts for high draft picks is to talk about potential total value.
Long's deal, like the players selected around him this year, does not include a signing bonus. Instead, there is a roster bonus of $2.605 million this year, plus a first-year base salary of $295,000. The subsequent salaries are $3.625 million for 2009, $4.35 million in 2010, $5.075 million in 2011, $5.8 million in 2012 and $3.285 million in 2013.
Those six years total $25.035 million. The base salaries are guaranteed from 2009 through 2012, and this year's roster bonus and salary, for all practical purposes, are guaranteed.
It has been said the sixth year of the deal is a club option, and this is how that works. The Rams can buy out the sixth year by paying Long $16.2 million in 2009. Should they do that, the base salaries reduce to $285,000 in 2009, $1.11 million in 2010, $1.835 million in 2011 and $2.569 million in 2012. That would add about $13 million in value to the contract.
There are also escalators in the contract, providing a significant jump in salary for 2010-2012 if Long reached minimum playing time and team qualifiers in either 2008 or 2009. His total base salaries would increase $19 million ($6 million in 2010, $6.56 million in 2011 and $6.44 million in 2012).
In addition, Long can earn a maximum total of $4.015 million for various incentives, including rookie awards, Pro Bowls and number of sacks.
The bottom line is this: The maximum value of the deal over six years is $55.75 million. However, with the likelihood it would reduce to five years, the maximum total value is $48 million. The true guaranteed money is $21.75 million, which includes his 2008 compensation.
However, don't think Long did significantly worse than the players signed around him at the top of the draft. All of those players have escalators and incentives that were used to inflate the reported value of their contracts.
Long will count $2.9 million against the Rams' rookie pool of $5,997,510, meaning he accounts for 48.35 percent of the total pool.
After looking at the Rams' offense yesterday, here is a unit-by-unit peek at what to expect from the defense.
DEFENSIVE LINE: Projected Starters -- LE Leonard Little, T La'Roi Glover, NT Adam Carriker, RE Chris Long. Backups -- E Victor Adeyanju, E James Hall, E Eric Moore, NT Clifton Ryan, T Claude Wroten, E C.J. Ah You, T Vernon Bryant, T Josh Thompson, T Willie Williams.
Like Orlando Pace on offense, Little will be the key to the defense's improved production. Playing on a bad toe, he had just one sack in 2007 before being placed on injured reserve and undergoing surgery. He was running well in the offseason, and if he can return to being a feared pass rusher, the whole defense will be better. The rookie Long will also be counted on to make an instant impact as a pass rusher and run defender. Hall should be a solid situational pass rusher, while Adeyanju is primed for a breakout season. Coaches have called him one of the most improved players ion the roster this offseason. It will be tough for Moore to make the roster. The ageless Glover contributed 6.0 sacks last season, largely because he didn't have to play too many snaps. The rotation at tackle appears formidable, although what is needed is significant improvement from the under-achieving Wroten. Carriker will continue to be used in a variety of ways, starting as a nose tackle, then moving to the other tackle spot in the rotation when Ryan is on the nose. Ryan started strong as a rookie last season, but faded somewhat at the end of the season. He should be ready to handle the rigors of a 16-game schedule this year.
LINEBACKERS: Projected Starters -- WLB Pisa Tinoisamoa, MLB Will Witherspoon, SLB Chris Draft. Backups -- SLB Quinton Culberson, MLB Tim McGarigle, OLB Chris Chamberlain, OLB David Vobora, MLB Marc Magro, OLB Vince Hall.
Witherspoon played at a Pro Bowl level last season, leading the team in sacks with 7.0 and tackles with 132. He was used more as a pass rusher after Little was injured, and it is hoped he won't be needed as much this season. His ability to go sideline to sideline is just what coordinator Jim Haslett wants in his middle linebacker. Most important to the defense is whether Tinoisamoa can stay on the field. He played just nine games last season and 11 the year before, and in many of the 2006 games he played were affected by his injuries. It is expected Tinoisamoa might not be on the field as much t keep him healthy all season. Coaches like the potential of Culberson, but the experience of Draft will likely make him the starter on the strong side, replacing Brandon Chillar, who left in free agency for Green Bay. Even with Draft starting, they want to find a way for Culberson to get some snaps, and that could be to spell Tinoisamoa at times. Competition for backup spots will largely depend on special teams play. A pair of seventh-round rookies, Chamberlain and Vobora, have solid shots at winning a roster spot. If they do, McGarigle could end up searching for a job. Hall is an interesting talent, but he is still feeling the effects of a knee injury suffered late in his final college season.
DEFENSIVE BACKS: Projected Starters -- CB Fakhir Brown, CB Tye Hill, FS Oshiomogho Atogwe, SS Corey Chavous. Backups -- CB Ron Bartell, CB David Macklin, CB Jonathan Wade, CB Justin King, S Todd Johnson, S Eric Bassey, S Jerome Carter, CB Darius Vinnett.
Last season, the Rams were 3-3 when the four secondary starters above were on the field together. When they weren't, the record was 0-10. Brown is an underrated player that needs to avoid the league's substance abuse program. Hill missed eight games last season, and is coming back from difficult wrist surgery. Atogwe led the NFC with eight interceptions in 2007, and should continue to ascend. Chavous misses key tackles at times, but doesn't receive enough credit for his generally steady play and the leadership he exerts off the field with the team's young defensive backs. Depth is suspect. Bartell is a good swing defender, while Macklin has experience. Wade needs to make a move this season, and the rookie King needs to show what he can do. Johnson is very good on special teams, but can be exposed if he has to play too much in the secondary. Bassey was moved from cornerback, so it's unknown what he will do. Carter has been a big disappointment since being a fourth-round pick in 2005.
SPECIAL TEAMS: K Josh Brown, P Donnie Jones, LS Chris Massey, KR/PR Dante Hall, KR Donnie Avery, K Justin Medlock.
This could be one of the best kicking game combinations in the league, with Brown, Jones and Massey. Brown replaces Jeff Wilkins, who retired, and in addition to excellent field-goal efforts should improve field position with his consistent kickoffs. The return game will feature some noteworthy summer competition. Hall will be 30 in September and missed nine games last season. Avery showed some spark as a kickoff returner in offseason workouts, while Stanley did the same late last season, averaging 25.5 yards on 20 returns. If someone else can return punts, it's not out of the question that Hall's roster spot could be in jeopardy.
Defensive end Chris Long arrived back in town Tuesday and officially signed his five-year (plus an option contract). ... Coach Scott Linehan said he plans to play the team's starters a little more in the first two preseason games. The time of the fourth preseason game, at Kansas City, has been changed from 7 p.m. to 6 p.m. The NFL requested the switch because of the Democrat National Convention that night.
Linehan expressed little concern over the team's remaining two unsigned draft picks, wide receiver Donnie Avery (second) and cornerback Justin King (fourth). "I don't anticipate any being an issue." The Rams are one of only six teams that have signed their first-round pick. As of Tuesday night, there were only 10 second-round picks signed in the league.
Dan Kreider has been a productive fullback during his previous seven seasons in the NFL, but he faces a tough situation after being signed by the Rams Tuesday. Kreider tore his ACL while with the Steelers last season and missed the final six games of the season. He has spent the offseason rehabilitating, and will see the Rams' playbook for the first time this week.
The Ravens signed tight end Aaron Walker Tuesday. He was with the Rams last season but ended the year on injured reserve because of a shoulder injury. ... Cornerback Lenny Walls, who was burned badly for two second-half touchdowns in last season's loss to Dallas, couldn't even make it to training camp with the Ravens. He was released Tuesday. Yo, Lenny: Get the message?