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Rams take time to educate rookie class before finishing contracts

LOS ANGELES -- As most of the NFL world seemed to engage in a sort of race to sign their rookie classes last week, the Los Angeles Rams again sat out the proceedings.

Since Jeff Fisher and Les Snead took over as coach and general manager, respectively, in 2012, the Rams have had a set plan for how and when they intend to sign their draft class. More often than not, it's resulted in the Rams being one of the last teams to sign their rookies.

It's an approach similar to how Fisher views his first interaction with the rookies as more of an orientation than a minicamp. Before handing over big checks to a bunch of young men who have never had access to that kind of money, Fisher first wants to focus on educating them.

Now that the rookie orientation is over, that process can begin and it will include something a little different this year as the NFL will be joining in that educational process. In years past, the drafted rookies have attended the annual rookie symposium in Ohio. Now, the league is dispatching representatives to each NFL city to give more personalized attention to each team.

“The NFL’s going to come in and address and make a presentation to the ‘rooks,’" Fisher said. "We’re going to continue and do the same things that we’ve always done. We’ll have meetings starting next week with respect to financial planning, life skills and decision making and all those things that we cover. Social media, media relations and the list goes on and on and on. They’ll be educated once we’re done with (rookie) camp. The draft classes are always used to going to the symposium for three days. This has a chance to be a little bit more intimate. I think it has a chance, from the standpoint of the guys being able to absorb more information, I think it may work out better. Plus, we can also participate in them.”

It's an approach that makes plenty of sense in today's NFL landscape. Since the new collective bargaining agreement came into effect in 2011 and the rookie salary cap was put in place, there's not much drama to the rookie deals. The contracts are essentially slotted and there's little room for negotiation, which means that it's not all that hard to get deals done. That's why so many teams are able to quickly sign their rookies after the draft.

In recent years, director of player programs La'Roi Glover has brought in people in various fields to offer the rookies short seminars on things like money management, buying or renting a home and other important life skills before a contract is offered and signed.

In the past few years, the Rams have traditionally signed their rookie class at some point in mid-June. They signed their 2013 group on June 13 and the 2014 and 2015 classes on June 12. It's probably a safe bet that the Rams will target a similar timeframe for this year's six drafted rookies.