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Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Around the NFC West: Rams to be active

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams released or planned to release five starters Monday.

"Is this a signal they aren't trying to be competitive now?" a Rams fan named Rick asked. "They are going to do another full rebuild?"

The Rams were not competitive enough when Justin Bannan, Fred Robbins, Jason Brown, Ron Bartell and James Hall were on their roster. Robbins was very good two years ago. Bartell has serious injury concerns. Hall was a strong all-around defensive end for years, but with 2011 first-round pick Robert Quinn on the roster, Hall's age and salary likely worked against him.

As for the full rebuild part of Rick's question, yes, the Rams are undergoing one of those.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the five cuts will clear about $20 million in cap space, giving the team roughly $30 million of room heading into free agency. General manager Les Snead: "We will be active. Like I've mentioned before, we're going to try to be aggressive in acquiring players whatever the method ... we want to get the best players in."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says the 49ers have demonstrated a willingness to take chances at wide receiver under Jim Harbaugh and Trent Baalke, as demonstrated by signing Braylon Edwards and Randy Moss over the past year. Maiocco: "Of course, the 49ers still have a need at wide receiver. Joshua Morgan is a free agent, and the 49ers want him back. Ted Ginn was a lot more valuable as a return man than as a wideout, so his return is anything but certain. Late in the season, the 49ers rolled the dice in a different way at the receiver position. After several key injuries, the 49ers decided not to address the position. Michael Crabtree and Kyle Williams were the starters in the NFC Championship Game, with Brett Swain was the No. 3 wideout." Noted: The contracts with Edwards and Moss were low-risk deals.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says Moss thinks he's gotten a bad rap in the media. Moss: "When it comes to world wide sports media, you know, I've gotten a bad rap. They've done their homework on me or they wouldn't have brought me in here. ... One thing I would like the sports world to understand is the love and passion I have for football."

Lowell Cohn of the Santa Rosa-Press Democrat describes Moss as a one-dimensional player, and one the 49ers will have a hard time maximizing. Cohn: "Moss is a down-the-field receiver. Period. He does not run shallow crossing routes or underneath routes -- he avoids them. He's strictly a home-run hitter. To make use of Moss, the quarterback -- we're most likely talking Alex Smith here -- needs to throw the ball vertically, and the offensive coordinator must be willing to take long shots downfield. But that is not Smith's style, never has been. He is a meticulous, analytical player who likes to throw to receivers when he sees a nice, comfortable window accompanied by plenty of open space."

Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News says the 49ers appear cocky going after Moss while ignoring Peyton Manning. Noted: Going after a wide receiver is far less disruptive than going after a quarterback. Manning would change every aspect of the offense, essentially forcing the team to part with Smith. Moss will be part of a rotation at the position, and he will not prevent the team from making other moves at his position.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers thoughts on Mario Williams as a potential fit for Seattle in free agency. O'Neil: "The Seahawks have stated a desire to improve their pass rush, and Williams isn't just one of the top pass rushers available in the open market, he's one of the top pass rushers in the game. This isn't a great pass rusher in his 30s. This is a great pass rusher in his prime. He played outside linebacker for the Texans last season, demonstrating a versatility that could give Seattle's defensive coaches a license to scheme with a roster that includes both Williams and Chris Clemons."

Also from O'Neil: thoughts on Matt Flynn as a potential QB signing for the Seahawks.

Brady Henderson of 710ESPN Seattle passes along John Clayton's thoughts on Williams. Clayton: "If you're going to be going for Mario Williams, the best value is to put him on the line of scrimmage and have him rush as a 4-3 defensive end. That's the way the league goes. You don't see $15 million linebackers. ... I think that when you look at the value, he's going to be more valuable to a 4-3 team, and the two 4-3 teams that appear to have either the most money or the most interest are Atlanta and Seattle."

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals are hoping for a quick resolution to Peyton Manning's situation. Somers: "The Cardinals would prefer the process to proceed as quickly as possible for a couple reasons. They owe quarterback Kevin Kolb a $7 million bonus if he is on the roster Saturday. They likely would release Kolb if they sign Manning. And the Cardinals are expected to start the league year Tuesday with little room under the NFL's $120.6 million salary cap. It will be difficult for them to re-sign their players, or those from other teams, without knowing if they are going to sign Manning."

Also from Somers: The Cardinals aren't worried about dire salary-cap characterizations regarding the team.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says the team expects to be less aggressive in free agency this offseason, in part because it perceives fewer needs.