Morning Ram-blings: QB prices soar

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- In a direct sense, the lucrative contract extension the Cincinnati Bengals handed to quarterback Andy Dalton this week has no bearing on the St. Louis Rams.

The Rams' quarterback situation with Sam Bradford really isn't all that similar to Dalton and the Bengals. While there might be a few statistical similarities, the Rams under Bradford haven't enjoyed anywhere near the success of the Bengals under Dalton. Now, there are plenty of reasons for that which we don't have to get into here, but there is something to take away from the Dalton contract when it comes to Bradford and other quarterbacks who are mostly unproven in the postseason.

Quarterback prices are soaring to the point where even mediocre or middle-of-the-road signal callers are landing big-money deals. ESPN columnist Jim Trotter explored the new market for quarterbacks and while Bradford is only mentioned in passing (pun unmercifully intended), Dalton's contract does have the potential to serve as a baseline for Bradford's next deal.

In reality, Dalton's contract doesn't look as rich as it was when the initial numbers were announced. With $35 million coming in the first three years, the Bengals will pay him the going rate for a mid-level quarterback without breaking the bank. If he continues to ascend and perform, Dalton can earn the rest of what's on the deal.

Quarterbacks who are even just functional starters have become such a valued and difficult-to-find commodity that the price has gone up. It's something akin to pitching in baseball where the aces make obscene amounts of money and average pitchers make mildly obscene amounts of money. Bradford isn't going to be able to do enough in 2014 to elevate to the level of an "ace" quarterback, but he could do enough to get on Dalton's level. Add in the fact that Bradford is coming off a huge rookie contract and it's easy to see where his next deal could land.

But once again, even having that discussion at this point doesn't mean much until Bradford proves worthy of such an extension.


A roundup of Wednesday's Rams stories appearing on ESPN.com. ... In the Ram-blings, we opened the day with a look at the Rams' chances of going from worst to first in the NFC West division. ... In this week's NFL Nation Buzz video, we looked at the Rams' approach to the preseason with Bradford. ... Speaking of which, Rams coach Jeff Fisher all but ruled Bradford out for Friday night's preseason opener along with left tackle Jake Long and center Scott Wells. ... Finally, we closed the day with the usual practice report from the team's Wednesday special teams session.


Saints reporter Mike Triplett writes that quarterback Drew Brees hasn't been officially ruled out for Friday but did sit out practice again Wednesday.

At stltoday.com, Jeff Gordon discusses the challenge the offense gets facing the top defense every day.

Jim Thomas covers the approach of veteran quarterback Shaun Hill.

101sports.com offers a photo gallery from training camp for those that can't make it out to practice.

The Associated Press caught up with Rams receivers and West Virginia teammates Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey.