Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on the Rams' ownership situation. He is not assuming Stan Kroenke would keep the team in St. Louis. He thinks the ownership transition has led to less aggressive spending on salaries. I'm not sure the free-agent class was strong enough to justify aggressive spending in most cases, and St. Louis would have to rank among the least attractive destinations for veteran players looking to win a championship. Miklasz: "Even if the Rams wanted (Brandon) Marshall, that’s only part of it. He wanted a new contract. A big contract. And reports indicate that the Dolphins are giving Marshall a four-year deal worth $47.5 million, including $24 million guaranteed. And the Rams do not have an owner who can sign off on something like that."
Also from Miklasz: a column expanding on his earlier premise.
The Associated Press says Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke isn't looking for the NFL to bend its rules against cross-ownership, according to league spokesman Greg Aiello. AP: "That means Kroenke will have to surrender his principal stake in the NBA's Denver Nuggets and the NHL's Colorado Avalanche to become majority owner of the Rams. Among the possibilities is handing control of those teams over to his 29-year-old son, Josh, a Nuggets executive." My take has been that Kroenke will probably find a way to get NFL approval. He wouldn't have exercised his option to take over full control of the team without feeling confident in the bid's success.
Mike Klis of the Denver Post quotes Aiello along the same lines. Klis: "Even if Kroenke should skirt the policy by transferring control of the Nuggets and Avs to a family member, as reported Tuesday night by Fox 2 News in St. Louis, he would still need approval from 75 percent of NFL ownership. (Broncos owner Pat) Bowlen and Kroenke were once business partners. They co-owned, with former Broncos QB John Elway, the now-defunct Colorado Crush Arena Football League team."
Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat wonders whether the NFL would view an ownership transfer within Kroenke's family as compliance with the cross-ownership policy. That could depend on how badly the NFL wants Kroenke and his money.
Also from Balzer: Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe nears the Thursday deadline for signing an offer sheet with another team.
Greg Johns of seattlepi.com checks in with Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck from minicamp. Hasselbeck on new coach Pete Carroll: "He's a lot cooler than I thought. He's very cool. The team meetings he runs are awesome. They're exciting. They're not boring. They're fun. I just think it's a great opportunity for us as players, this part of our lives isn't going to last forever. So to be around guys who have been real successful, it's just a great opportunity to learn from them. And we've already had some Hollywood moments." No details quite yet.
Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times passes along a potentially telling quote from Seahawks offensive coordinator Jeremy Bates regarding center Chris Spencer. Bates: "He's a natural center. He's quick off the ball. He has great hands. He's a leader of that line. He's nasty. It's a natural position for him, and we're extremely excited that he's a central part of that line." Line coach Alex Gibbs hasn't spoken to reporters since taking the job and I'm not expecting him to break that silence, at least anytime soon. The assumption would be that Gibbs and Bates think at least somewhat similarly on Spencer.
John Morgan of Field Gulls thinks the Seahawks made the right decision by backing away from the Brandon Marshall trade when the price got too high. Morgan: "Two second-round picks is not as valuable as a single first. It is, rather, much more valuable. The draft is fluid. In a good enough draft, the talent found at the end of the first and throughout much of the second is nearly identical."
Paul Bessire of sportsradiointerviews.com offers highlights from Alex Smith's recent interview with KNBR radio. Smith: "Last year, knocking on the doorstep and letting games slip through our fingers left a sour taste in our mouth -- a frustrated taste in our mouth. I think we are ready to overcome that and take the next step. I think everyone in this building expects that. That’s our expectation. Our expectation is playoffs. We’re not going to take anything less than that."
Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says Travis LaBoy would love to play for the 49ers.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee offers reasons the 49ers might not have great interest in LaBoy. Barrows: "The team has two established starters at the position at outside linebacker in Parys Haralson and Manny Lawson. Another player, Ahmad Brooks, showed true potential last season. For one thing, you can never have too many pass rushers. Playing outside linebacker for the Cardinals in 2008, LaBoy began the season with four sacks in the first four games before injuries sidetracked his season. Second, the 49ers might be looking ahead to next season. Lawson is entering the final year of his contract at a time when the team may have bigger priorities when it comes to contract extensions."
Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals should be concerned about Deuce Lutui not working out at team headquarters this offseason. Lutui has stayed away while declining to sign his one-year offer as a restricted free agent. Somers: "Lutui, who is listed at 338 pounds, has had to closely monitor his weight throughout his four seasons in the NFL. Part of the reason the Cardinals signed Rex Hadnot and re-signed Jeremy Bridges, was to cover themselves at guard."
Also from Somers: Did the Cardinals get enough in return for receiver Anquan Boldin? Somers: "No matter what happens during the upcoming season, the Cardinals likely are going to feel the ripple effects of the Marshall trade. The Dolphins reportedly signed him to a four-year, $47.5 million contract. Depending upon the veracity of those numbers, Marshall might have passed Larry Fitzgerald as the highest-paid receiver in the NFL. Fitzgerald's four-year, $40 million contract ends after the 2012 season. But he has clauses that prevent the club from trading him without his permission or placing the franchise tag on him. That will motivate the Cardinals to address Fitzgerald's contract next offseason."
Darren Urban of azcardinals.com wonders whether Ted Ginn Jr. could fit in Arizona. Urban: "The Cardinals could always use a dynamic return man (although Ginn hasn’t been a full-time punt returner since his 2007 rookie year) and could use a burner as a fourth receiver. That said, Ginn is due too much money for a fourth wideout (about $1 million in 2010, $1.4 M in 2011 and $1.8 M in 2012). If Santonio Holmes is only worth a fifth-rounder (and yes, he has had off-field troubles which Ginn has not), than the Dolphins can’t possibly ask for more than a sixth-rounder for Ginn."