Rams expect to be busy as negotiating window opens

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- As Los Angeles Rams general manager Les Snead is quick to point out, the name for the next two days of NFL business is something of an oxymoron.

"Really, it’s time to find out. Everybody is trying to find out what the realistic value is and that’s why I do think it is a positive that we have that 48-hour period," Snead said. "I don’t know what they call it. Sometimes we call it "legal tampering" but those two words together don’t make sense. But what that allows us to do is the agent can actually talk to other teams and actually finally discuss real figures and they can come back and say this is what we’ve got and you need to say yes or no. Or they may figure out that what we’ve been offering all along is the best deal. I think you are going to see more and more (unrestricted free agents) get into that 48-hour period and figure it out from there."

That 48-hour period is now finally upon us. The NFL's version of jumbo shrimp begins Monday at noon ET, as all 32 teams can finally begin negotiating with unrestricted free agents. In a departure from recent years, the window for those free-for-all negotiations will last two days instead of three and the NFL has relaxed a bit on what can be said and done during that time.

Nonetheless, any agreement that is reached during the two-day period cannot become official until players sign and execute actual contracts with a team. By league rule, that can't happen until Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET.

For the Rams, the next week will undoubtedly be busy and go a long way in shaping the direction of the 2016 season. Here's a look at some of the business the Rams have to take care of in the coming days:

-- The Rams have already placed the franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson, who has accepted the one-year deal at a price of $13.952 million. The Rams can and will continue to negotiate a long-term extension with Johnson but for now, we have to subtract that total from their available cap space entering the new league year. That means the Rams have about $45 million in cap space to work with as they head toward the league year.

-- One piece of business the Rams will also take care of in the next few days that will alter their cap outlook is to extend tender offers to restricted free agents such as quarterback Case Keenum, linebacker Daren Bates, safety Cody Davis and running backs Benny Cunningham and Chase Reynolds. Of that group, only Keenum is likely to get a tender beyond the original draft-position level. Of course, none will count against the cap until or if they sign the tender offer, but the Rams will plan as though those numbers will change.

-- To this point, the Rams have been active in trying to keep many of their own free agents. Players like Johnson, cornerback Janoris Jenkins, safety Rodney McLeod, linebacker/safety Mark Barron and defensive end William Hayes are their top priorities. None of them have agreed to deals yet and why would they? As Snead mentioned, with so much money available on the free-agent market, it behooves players and agents to at least see what the market has to offer before signing off on a deal with the Rams. Because of the negotiating window, the Rams should get quick answers on how their offers compare to what the open market could bring. It should also bring relatively fast decisions on whether they'll be able to get their guys back.

-- As for shopping around for outside free agents, we can't rule out the chances that the Rams willl go out and spend on a big-name free agent though that is more likely if they lose out on a couple of the names mentioned above. The better bet is that the Rams will take a similar approach in free agency as in recent years, spending the bulk of their cap space to keep their own and supplementing with potential bargains at positions like tight end.

-- The biggest X factor here is quarterback, where the Rams have repeatedly made it clear they're open to and looking for competition for Keenum. The Peyton Manning dream is officially gone but Brock Osweiler, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Chase Daniel and Robert Griffin III are expected to be available. Would the Rams be willing to invest the money needed to pry a player like Osweiler away from Denver or another quarterback-needy team like Houston? The time for answers to replace speculation is coming soon.