The 2011 NFL draft class is, perhaps, one of the most talented to come along in many years. In the first 15 picks alone, emerging superstars dot the landscape with Pro Bowl berths in abundance.
Soon enough, the teams drafting those stars are going to have to pay up to retain those players and the low-cost production they're getting now will turn into debating if that production can continue on potential record contracts.
The good news for the St. Louis Rams is they are included in the group of teams with an emerging star in defensive end Robert Quinn. The bad news is they're going to have to fork over what could become a record-setting type of deal to retain him when the time comes.
In this week's edition of "Inside the Huddle" with John Clayton, he explores how teams can plan for the future now by banking some of their excess dollars and cap space with the knowledge that those big paydays are on the horizon.
If you're a Rams fan, the good news is that Quinn can't hit the market for another two years. While he signed a four-year deal, the team has an option for a fifth season so long as it chooses to exercise it by May of this year. We covered all of that back in January, but it's worth a reminder in the context of free agency.
With the salary cap expected to continue rising to record levels the next two years, the Rams can afford to take on a high-priced free agent or two this year, but they would have to backload a deal a little more than they normally do to make it work. That's fine so long as they can get the bulk of any big money paid out in the next couple of years, but with Quinn the gem of the 2011 class coming and a potential extension for quarterback Sam Bradford (at least that's what the team claims it wants right now), there's going to be some space needed to make it work.
For now, it's a no brainer for the Rams to exercise the option on Quinn and hold his rights through the 2015 season. At some point, though, the bargain that wears No. 94 is going to get what's coming to him.
A roundup of the weekend's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In Saturday's Ram-blings, we discussed the importance of this offseason and the 2014 season for the Rams. ... Next, we reviewed the film from an active Friday chat in which we talked all things Rams for a couple of hours. ... Finally, we rounded up the rumors and speculation from the first 24 hours of the free-agent negotiation window.
At stltoday.com, Jim Thomas offers a note on the Quinn situation discussed above.
Thomas also provided his list of the top 30 available free agents.
One more from Thomas, he posits that the Rams likely won't be very active when free agency starts.
Jeff Gordon talked some Rams in his weekly chat.
This NFL.com report focuses on the offensive line plans of Miami and Arizona but also makes mention of a new suitor for Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold.