It's easy to look past the Rams and 49ers this week with the Seahawks hiring Pete Carroll and the Cardinals preparing for the Saints.
Here's a Rams-centric mailbag. I'll hit on some 49ers stuff separately.
Brian from Kent, Wash., writes: Do you see the Rams drafting Ndamukong Suh or trading the No. 1 pick? Also, I have heard rumors that the rams are after Mike Vick.
Mike Sando: It's tough getting teams to trade into the top spot, or even the top five, from lower in the round. The Rams would want the top pick if there were an obvious choice for the No. 1 pick. If Peyton Manning were in this draft, the Rams would keep the pick, right? I just don't see that type of obviously superior quarterback talent in this draft. For that reason, the Rams are probably stuck with the pick.
Picking a quarterback that early forces teams to pay a premium price relative to other positions in the draft (if not relative to quarterbacks already in the league). I'm not sure the Rams will see a quarterback worth the price. That could lead them to the veteran trade market, where Vick stands out as one of the better options.
The price a team pays for a player defines the risk. Adding Vick for the right price makes more sense now than it would have a year ago. One, Vick has kept a low profile and stayed out of trouble, to the best of our knowledge. Two, he spent the past season learning the offense St. Louis uses. It's still fair to question how he would fare over a 16-game schedule. The Rams would have a chance to lead the league in rushing yardage with Vick and Steven Jackson on the same team, but leading the league in rushing isn't necessarily a worthy goal.
The Rams need more from their passing game and better health on their offensive line.
Jesse from Fallbrook, Calif., writes: Up until the last few weeks of the season, I was hoping the Rams would pursue OLB Derrick Johnson, S Nick Collins and QB Jason Campbell. I am quickly thinking that all three will be nearly impossible. Nick Collins is now a two time Pro Bowler and will cost more than Oshiomogho Atogwe. Johnson had two picks for six in the last week of the season. Way to leave an impression on the front office before your contract expires. Campbell will be a restricted free agent with an uncapped season. And he might fit Shanahan's offense nicely.
Now I am thinking we move Quincy Butler to free safety if his cover skills will warrant the move, and attempt to draft Myron Rolle (fourth round) at strong safety and A.J. Edds (third round) at SLB. And hope for Sean Canfield to slip to the fifth. I'd hate to use both fives to get back up to get him or someone similar. Your thoughts?
Mike Sando: Campbell is probably the best quarterback option for the Redskins. Here is what Shanahan said about him, according to the Washington Post: "I just love the way Jason handles himself. I'm looking forward to sitting down and watching film and going through every play that he's had throughout his career, and looking forward to sitting down and talking with him. Hopefully the best years are ahead. But that's a process that will take some time."
Doesn't sound like Shanahan will be in a hurry to trade him. In Green Bay, Collins just finished his fifth season in the league. He is part of the 2005 draft class. Without a new collective bargaining agreement, Collins reverts to being a restricted free agent. Same goes for the Chiefs' Johnson and even Atogwe.
Butler is listed at about 190 pounds. He has good height, but I'm not a big fan of having players change positions. Butler, while promising, isn't a top-flight corner. What makes us think he would become the answer at safety?
Free agency could be even worse than usual this season if the NFL remains without a CBA. Fewer players will hit the market as unrestricted free agents.
Adam from Mesa, Ariz., writes: Should the Rams follow the Chargers' example in 2004 and trade a coveted player in the draft for several high picks? They are similar to San Diego in that they already have the all-world running back in Steven Jackson (compared to San Diego with LaDainian Tomlinson in 2004) and have the No. 1 overall choice.
The Lions or the Bucs make sense since they both need Ndamukong Suh and both drafted a quarterback last year. Should the Rams build up Ndamukong Suh, then trade him at the last minute for as much as they can get, even if its a discounted price, instead of taking the perceived best player available? Our precedent is the 2004 draft with Eli Manning and Philip Rivers (the No. 1 overall for the No. 4 overall, a third-rounder in 2004 and a first- and fifth-rounder in 2005).
If the Rams offer the No. 1 overall to either team for say, the No. 2 or No. 3 overall and a second-rounder this year and second-rounder next year, it might be a discount, but would that be better than one dominant player this year? What are your thoughts?
Mike Sando: The Rams could benefit from having multiple picks. They also need difference makers. This team hasn't found truly elite, high-impact players at the top of the draft recently. The important thing becomes determining whether Suh will be that type of player relative to other players available near the top of the draft.
The 2004 draft did feature a couple of highly regarded quarterbacks. The Chargers and Giants both came away with quarterbacks who have since won playoff games. The 2010 draft doesn't necessarily seem to feature quarterback prospects as highly regarded as Manning and Rivers were six years ago.
The bottom line, I think, is that other teams will not be willing to trade into the top pick. Recent history tells us it's a tough sell.
Jason from St. Louis writes: Even if they have to take less than market value for the No. 1 overall choice, don't they need to get away from the money a top five pick makes after drafting the last two No. 2 overall picks? Suh may end up being one of the greatest lineman of all time, but do we know for sure that is going to happen? And just for the opportunity for that to happen, he gets a rookie contract for about what DeMarcus Ware makes. I don't know that any team could carry three contracts the size these three young gentlemen will be making.
Even without a cap next year, a cap has to come back in any CBA, right? And this team is setting itself up to be in serious cap trouble. The Rams let Chris Draft go over I think $700,000 before this year because of cap issues. Giving Suh $70 million over six years isn't going to help matters. If the Rams could get a late first and a couple second-rounders, you have to make that deal, right? And with Suh at the top, someone has to be willing to give that up for him.
Mike Sando: The Rams have dramatically improved their salary-cap outlook. Cap space is not going to be a problem. The Rams' cap guy, Kevin Demoff, left the Bucs with tens of millions in cap space when he took the job in St. Louis. He knows how to create room. Cash could be more of a concern than cap space. The Rams are looking for a buyer. Their wallet is only so deep.
The decision on Draft was also a value judgment based on the fact that he was an older player on the decline. Keeping him on the roster for Week 1 would have forced the Rams to guarantee his full salary. Once they cut Draft, it's not like a long line of teams rushed out to sign him.
There's no way the Rams could justify dropping from the first pick to the bottom of the first round. They need playmakers. They're more likely to find one in the top five or 10 than if they trade all the way to the bottom of the round.
Rob from Asheville, N.C., writes: Mike, can Adam Carriker be an effective starter in the NFL? If so, can the Rams pass on Suh and take Anthony Davis or Eric Berry? Is Suh dominant enough that somebody would actually offer the Rams a package to move up to No. 1?
Mike Sando: The Rams cannot bank on Carriker being healthy, let alone becoming an effective starter. They might have hope for him, but they cannot count on him. Any decision they make on Suh probably has to stand on its own, not in relation to what they might get from Carriker.
The Rams spent last offseason beefing up the offensive line. They need to work more on the defensive line this offseason. Steve Spagnuolo will want depth up front so he can create the type of rotation he enjoyed while with the Giants.
Drafting Davis first overall wouldn't make a great deal of sense after the Rams used the second overall choice for another offensive tackle, Anthony Davis. Berry has playmaking ability, which the Rams need, but can they afford to focus so much of their resources on a back-end player? Seems to me the Rams will want to upgrade their front four and front seven first.