Who Watches the Linemen? Part 2 of our conversation with Bryan Douglass

Editor’s Note: This is the continuation of a conversation with Bryan Douglass (@bpdouglass), Senior NFL Writer at Fanball, around the Rams’ offensive line. It started with a simple question: Are the Rams making a mistake in tendering Alex Barron? You can read Part 1 here.

RH: Is Barron at an age where he no longer has ‘upside,’ where he is what he is and the Rams have to decide what the price point is on that level of production?

BD: You are right about Barron’s age. Upside is dead for him. I’m not sure he couldn’t be helped… but I hear what you are saying and if Spags reviews that scenario and feels that way, who am I to argue? There are so many things we don’t know about… if his attitude is shitty or if he isn’t putting forth effort to change, I’d cut ties as well.

RH: The thing I wonder about, especially with a new franchise QB potentially coming in: is Barron’s performance even adequate? Penalties aside, his pass protection and run blocking are still poorly rated by sites such as ProFootballFocus.

BD: In general, I tend to agree… Barron is a bit of a problem and it is likely unwise to expect he will change significantly.

When Baltimore is making Jared Gaither available for a second rounder, does that further depress the demand for a clearly inferior player like Barron at the same price?

photo from BaltimoreRavens.com
Jared Gaither of the Ravens: worth a look?

BD: I actually follow Gaither on Twitter and have enjoyed a couple of small back-and-forths with him, but he won’t talk business. I hit him up about his contract status and he deflected but was very professional about it.

I’d guess the Ravens are playing the game. The owners left their meetings knowing it’s not the pick you give up to sign a tendered guy that worries… it’s the contract you have to sign AFTER you get ‘em onboard. Philly made the leap with Mike Bell and it was probably wise. The price was right and Philly has a very unique situation where they have a TON of money coming off the books (Shawn Andrews is gone, they are trying to rid themselves of Donovan McNabb, they got Stacy Andrews to take a pay cut, Westbrook is gone… TONS of money they let go).

Great thoughts (in Part 1 of this convo) on the uncapped year, btw. The Rams cleared a lot of dead money this offseason, but have yet to spend much live money in response.

BD: St. Louis is in an even tougher situation as they are seeking a new owner. You REALLY don’t want to strap in and commit to spending big dollars in that situation. You need the books to be in order, and I would bet the organization is being rather cautious with every decision that involves spending… and that situation is getting worse from what I’ve read.

They have a potential buyer at the table but rumors suggest his “offer” to buy is loaded with legal terms the NFL doesn’t not care for, and there are concerns the potential buyer is not nearly as stable financially as the other owners, and they will look down on that in a major way.

Plus, I was reading rumors suggesting local man (for me) Stan Kroenke has informed the league that, as part of his stand-off (he really wants to buy the team but league rules prohibit “any owner of a team in another professional sports league from owning an NFL franchise that is not in that same location”… so as owner of the Avs and Nuggets here in Denver, the league has ruled he is not eligible to buy the Rams), he plans to sell his shares (I believe he owns about 20-30% of the Rams right now) once a new owner is found and approved. That means any offer to buy must include that additional expense… that’s NOT good for a team trying to conduct the business of building a roster.

Ed: Bernie Miklasz opened this can of worms in January, but as recently as March 21 he pronounced the relationship between Khan and Kroenke as “healthy,” which gives us some hope that these fears are overblown. However, the big date is April 12th, when Kroenke will have to announce his decision.

RH: While we’re on the subject, should the Rams consider acquiring Gaither?

BD: Take a flyer on Gaither… I would love it, but I would bet the Rams, like most teams, would prefer to approach Baltimore after the Draft. They want to keep their picks (the cost of those players for the next three years is too beneficial for most organizations to give them away too easily) and would likely look to negotiate after the Draft.

Of course, they may be worried about Jason Smith… Gaither plays on the left and while we tend to believe those players can make the switch with ease, that’s not always the case. Smith is that kind of talent… Gaither is good but I’ve never seen him on the right side, and if the cost is high enough you would wonder why spend it to gamble on that transition.

Editor’s Note: Part three of this conversation will be published this weekend, featuring a look back at Bryan’s 2009 preseason prediction for the Rams’ offensive line. If you want to read more, Bryan writes great NFL content like this for Broncos Stable, as well as penning excellent Owners Edge columns for the Fanball parent site.
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