NFC West: Chip Rosenbloom

Thoughts on the recent Orange County Register story mentioning the St. Louis Rams as a potential candidate for relocation to Los Angeles:

  • Having Los Angeles as a potential option gives the Rams leverage with St. Louis as they seek an improved stadium situation for the long term. In response to the Register's story, the Rams told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch they remain "focused on working on a lease" with St. Louis. The Rams have not said anything that would limit their options or diminish their leverage, however.
  • The leader of the Los Angeles group, Philip Anschutz, is reportedly "prepared" to acquire a majority ownership stake in a team for the purposes of bringing it to Southern California. I doubt the Rams' new majority owner, Stan Kroenke, would be looking to sell the team so shortly after buying out former majority owner Chip Rosenbloom. He could always try to move the team on his own if he could get a better stadium deal elsewhere.
  • The Register's story says the Los Angeles group has "spoken" with five current NFL teams, including the Rams. Anschutz's group likely initiated the discussions with Minnesota, San Diego, Oakland, Jacksonville and the Rams. There is nothing to suggest the Rams are pursuing a move. But Kroenke has no reason to discourage Los Angeles' interest, either.
  • The Rams' lease with the Edward Jones Dome gives them an out after the 2014 season. The Los Angeles group hopes to have its stadium ready for the 2016 season.
  • Kroenke should be fully versed on the situation in Los Angeles. As of March 2010, the NFL lists him as part of its eight-member Los Angeles Stadium Working Group. The others: Jeffrey Lurie (chairman), Pat Bowlen, Woody Johnson, Jerry Jones, Bob McNair, Steve Ross and Steve Tisch.

These sorts of stories aren't going away until the NFL has a team in Los Angeles. The Rams will remain a perceived candidate to move there until their own stadium situation firms up. For the time being, however, nothing appears to have changed.
Dan Bickley of the Arizona Republic checks in with Ken Whisenhunt, Larry Fitzgerald and Kurt Warner. He also questions the Cardinals' organizational structure. Somers: "The Cardinals don't have a strong general manager. Rod Graves is friendly, pliable, sincere and a great ambassador for Bidwill interests. He came to the desert as a $100,000 scout, hiked his annual salary to around $1.5 million, and I celebrate his good fortune. But he's not a team builder, and his ascension represents the primary flaw in the organization's design. Consequently, Whisenhunt has been stretched thin at times, forced to get involved in areas that shift his focus from his primary obligation: leading men who have the talent to win football games." Whisenhunt does seem to feel a need to get involved in areas ideally left to others, including contract negotiations. His involvement in Anquan Boldin's situation personalized the dispute in a manner that was not productive.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to hire a defensive coordinator by the end of the week.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says players felt empty watching Super Bowl festivities from afar.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Marshall Faulk felt some anxiety as the Hall of Fame announcement approach. Thomas: "It was the kind of nervousness and anxiety that he hadn't felt since his playing days. Then his game-day instincts took over and he calmed. And then he heard his name. From the Desire Projects in New Orleans to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, Faulk's football journey was complete as he became the first Ram from their 'Greatest Show on Turf'' days to be elected to the Hall."

Also from Thomas: Former Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett was happy to be back in the Super Bowl. Thomas: "Following his rookie season, when he was a backup, Pickett started the next four seasons for the Rams at defensive tackle and played well. He was a very active player for the position, averaging 96 tackles a season from 2002 through 2005. But in one of several personnel blunders by the Rams during those days, the team made next to no effort to re-sign Pickett when his original contract expired after the '05 season. They spent the next several years looking for replacements."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on the Rams' owners, past and present.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com sends Texas A&M outside linebacker Von Miller to the 49ers with the seventh overall choice in his first mock draft of the year. Under this scenario, quarterback Blaine Gabbert lands in Arizona with the fifth overall choice. Maiocco has receiver Julio Jones going to the Rams at No. 14 and quarterback Ryan Mallett going to the Seahawks at No. 25. These projections make sense from a need standpoint.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers, like the Rams, are installing a new offensive system, but they're worse off than St. Louis because they don't have their starting quarterback. Barrows: "Which helps explain why Harbaugh has been so rosy and complimentary of Alex Smith in recent weeks. The quarterback who gives the 49ers the best chance to hit the ground running after a turbulence-filled offseason is Smith. He's familiar with all the offensive players and is good friends with many of them. He lives just minutes from the team's facility. And he's played in a West Coast system before -- in 2005 when Packers coach Mike McCarthy was the offensive coordinator."

Also from Barrows: a Jim Harbaugh profile. Barrows: "Look at Harbaugh's résumé and you'll find an odd overlap. From 1993-2001 he was both an NFL quarterback and an assistant coach at Western Kentucky. When the school's football program ran out of money and was in danger of being dropped, Harbaugh became certified as a college coach and spent the NFL offseasons recruiting -– gratis –- for his father."

Chris Foster of the Los Angeles Times says Seahawks assistant coach Rocky Seto apparently is not leaving the team to coach at UCLA. Foster: "Seto, as assistant coach with the Seattle Seahawks, was offered and accepted the job Tuesday night, but the offer was rescinded the following day, according to the person close to the negotiations. ... According to people in the program who are not authorized to talk about the search, (Rick) Neuheisel approached then Stanford defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who was not interested, and interviewed former Florida defensive co-coordinators Teryl Austin and Chuck Heater. Fangio is now with the NFL's San Francisco 49ers, Austin became an assistant with the NFL's Baltimore Ravens and Heater was hired as Temple’s defensive coordinator."

Rams regular-season wrap-up

January, 5, 2011
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» NFC Wrap-ups: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Arrow indicates direction team is trending.

Final Power Ranking: 17
Preseason Power Ranking: 32

[+] EnlargeSam Bradford
Icon SMISam Bradford proved to be more durable than analysts predicted.
Biggest surprise: Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford took every offensive snap even though draft analysts questioned his durability coming out of college. Bradford earned the starting job and teammates' respect right away. Bradford was not perfect. He needs to continue improving as a pocket passer. An improved command of the offense and situations will allow him to make better presnap adjustments at the line of scrimmage. But all signs point to Bradford's developing more quickly than expected. He also proved to be more athletic than expected, scrambling effectively and throwing accurately on the move. The team never seriously considered letting veteran A.J. Feeley open the season as the starter. Bradford was NFL-ready.

Biggest disappointment: Injuries tore apart the receiving corps, preventing Bradford from taking the offense past its formative stages. Losing Donnie Avery to a season-ending knee injury during the exhibition season robbed the Rams of their deep threat. Mark Clayton more than filled the production void after the Rams acquired him from Baltimore, but his season-ending knee injury forced Bradford to play the final 11 games without him. Deficiencies at receiver stood out as the Rams' primary problem during their Week 17 elimination game at Seattle. The Rams didn't get much from rookie receiver Mardy Gilyard this season, adding to the disappointment.

Biggest need: Receiver isn't the only obvious need. The Rams need help at outside linebacker as they continue to build their defense under coach Steve Spagnuolo. Special-teamers David Vobora and Chris Chamberlain were starting on the outside by season's end. Both are good enough to factor into the defense as reserves. Neither should be starting for the long term. The Rams were better at the position until Na'il Diggs suffered a season-ending injury. The team was desperate enough early in the season to give Bobby Carpenter a try. The Rams need better.

Team MVP: Bradford. The Rams went 6-42 in the three seasons before they drafted Bradford. They went 7-9 in his first season. There were other reasons for the turnaround, including a favorable schedule early in the season, but Bradford was the key variable. He made those around him better, rare for a rookie.

Taking ownership: Stan Kroenke took over for Chip Rosenbloom as the Rams' majority owner. Kroenke has deeper pockets, potentially giving the Rams resources that were not previously available. How will the Rams proceed during their first offseason with Kroenke in the majority role? The unsettled labor situation complicates matters, but now is the time for the Rams to redouble their efforts. They have the right quarterback. Time to build up his supporting cast.

Around the NFC West: New era for Rams

August, 26, 2010
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Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says NFL owners needed less than an hour to approve Stan Kroenke's bid to purchase majority ownership in the Rams. Thomas: "Kroenke has until December 2014 to be fully compliant with NFL cross-ownership rules. That gives him four years to work out a financially efficient way to actually sell the Nuggets and Avalanche to Josh Kroenke, or another family member. Those familiar with the sale process say Kroenke isn't entirely sure how he's going to do that at this point but is considering several options."

Also from Thomas: Shahid Khan bows out gracefully.

More from Thomas: Chip Rosenbloom reflects on his family's ownership of the Rams. Thomas: "Rosenbloom made it a point to stay out of the spotlight Wednesday. He respectfully declined an invitation to join Kroenke at a news conference following the owners' vote. And he quietly checked out of the hotel where the meetings were held a couple of hours before the meeting concluded, heading to the airport for the flight back home."

Brian Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch sees Kroenke as the right man to own the Rams, even though he doesn't necessarily trust the billionaire. Burwell: "Until Kroenke agrees to a new lease agreement, or the Rams are playing in a new stadium in the greater St. Louis area — or two other NFL franchises end up in Los Angeles over the next five years -- I will continue to raise an eyebrow to his every move when it concerns the long-term future of the Rams in St. Louis. ... Yet in spite of my ever-diligent distrust of the man, here's why Kroenke still could and should be great for the Rams. He will hit the ground running. Because he is no stranger to the workings of the organization, there will be no learning curve. He knows how everything works, and just as important, what doesn't work. And I would be surprised if everyone in the organization doesn't already understand that the clock has been ticking on their evaluations for more than a year."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects Kroenke to evaluate the Rams' structure.

Also from the Post-Dispatch: a recent Rams ownership timeline.

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com says Leon Washington impressed during practice Wednesday. Washington will start for the Seahawks this week.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times offers notes from Seahawks practice, including this one: "Ben Hamilton worked as the second-unit center on Tuesday. He watched Wednesday's practice at one point with an ice bag on his knee. Chester Pitts was on the field, but was limited. Extremely limited, and he also iced the knee after individual drills."

Also from O'Neil: a look at the Seahawks' roster on defense. O'Neil: "Lawyer Milloy and Earl Thomas are lined up as the starting safeties, but behind that duo is a logjam of players that includes former starter Jordan Babineaux, a fifth-round pick in Kam Chancellor the team probably doesn't want to cut and free-agent addition Kevin Ellison, who has a bad knee, but all he did last year was start nine games for the San Diego Chargers."

Greg Johns of seattlepi.com says Seahawks tight end John Carlson isn't sweating too much over a couple dropped passes.

John Morgan of Field Gulls appreciates Mike Williams' sure hands.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic checks in from the Cardinals' spirited practices with the Tennessee Titans. Somers: "The pass-rush session between the Cardinals' offensive line and the Titans' defense was the only serious threat to decorum. The Titans' front four is relentless, and the Cardinals started to take offense to what they viewed as extracurricular behavior. Cardinals backups Jeremy Bridges and Rex Hadnot ratcheted things up a notch with some talking. After the Titans were stopped on snap, Hadnot said, 'No soup for you!' Bridges did some hitting and talking, prompting one Titans player to ask later if Bridges had eaten enough biscuits."

Also from Somers: "Matt Leinart continues to play with the starting unit and backup Derek Anderson got some work with the starters, too. Rookie Max Hall worked some with the second unit. Leinart looked sharp in the two-minute drill, driving the team down the field. Anderson looked decent and Hall was in command, too."

More from Somers: a chat transcript with his thoughts on the quarterback situation in Arizona. Somers: "I sense some worry. Staff is waiting for Leinart to make the plays he should. But it's not as if Anderson is pushing him. I think the staff feels comfortable the line, backs and receivers will be fine. ... Some people I talked to think Leinart is not looking downfield long enough. It seems to be he's a little cautious of making a mistake. The go route to Williams was an aggressive play call on 3rd and 1. Coaches wanted to see how Leinart would handle it."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com says Greg Toler was working at right cornerback with the Cardinals' first-team defense.

Also from Urban: Were there unrealistic expectations for the Cardinals' offensive line?

More from Urban: Ken Whisenhunt and Jeff Fisher sounded satisfied with the work their teams got in practice.

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea.com says 20 players missed 49ers practice for various reasons, but Ted Ginn Jr. was not one of them. Maiocco: "Quarterback Alex Smith hit receiver Ted Ginn with 29-yard touchdown pass in the back corner of the end zone, over the coverage of Patrick Stoudamire. Ginn narrowly avoided running into a table in an empty hospitality tent. Ginn spiked the ball in the tent." I'm often amused by the seemingly arbitrary rules coaches set for practices. They'll ban cell phones or drink containers among spectators, only to let sponsors set up tables within a few yards of the fields.

Also from Maiocco: Phillip Adams is making a positive impression with the 49ers.

More from Maiocco: The 49ers held their morning practice in full pads.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee updates 49ers position battles. Barrows: "At the beginning of training camp, four players -- Brandon Jones, Jason Hill, Dominique Zeigler and Kyle Williams -- were competing for perhaps two spots. Jones is out of the running and Williams is out with a toe injury. (He was seen walking in a boot today). But while Williams has been recuperating, no one has stepped forward to take his place as the top punt returner."

Also from Barrows: Defense prevails in a staple of 49ers practice.

Phil Barber of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat looks at the 49ers' return game.

Dan Brown of the San Jose Mercury News explains the reasoning behind the "ownership" drills the 49ers run in practice. It's a chance for players to call the plays.

Mark Emmons of the San Jose Mercury News checks in with former 49ers standout Bryant Young.

David White of the San Francisco Chronicle says the 49ers do not want Ginn returning punts.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider says there's evidence Smith's experience in the 49ers' offense is paying off.

Details on Rams' ownership transfer

August, 25, 2010
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The NFL has provided a transcript from interviews featuring commissioner Roger Goodell, new Rams majority owner Stan Kroenke and NFL executive Eric Grubman.

I'll pass along some highlights, followed by my thoughts as they (hopefully) arise. Kroenke is transferring ownership of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his son in compliance with NFL rules on cross-ownership of sports franchises.
[+] EnlargeStan Kroenke
AP Photo/Nati HarnikNew Rams owner Stan Kroenke said "it is not our desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis."
Kroenke on keeping the team in St. Louis: "We are going to work really hard. I know this is an interesting question. I have been around St. Louis and Missouri for a major portion of my life. We worked hard to bring the club to St. Louis and on the expansion process in 1993 where we weren’t successful, but we stayed in there and got an NFL team back into St. Louis. It is not our desire to lead the charge out of St. Louis. That is not why we are here. We are here to work hard and be very successful in St. Louis. The realistic part of that is that everybody knows we like to be competitive. Our teams we think are competitive. To be competitive, you have to have revenue. And so we are going to work really hard to have a model that produces revenue where we can be consistently competitive. Anybody can be competitive in the pro sports business every so often, but the real challenge is to be competitive every year. The guys from Denver can tell you, we have been in the playoffs between 70 to 80 percent of the time in Denver. That is the harder part."

Sando's thoughts: All bets are off. That's a noncommittal, businessman's response from Kroenke putting pressure on the community to meet his demands. That is how pro sports owners operate. Seattle's Paul Allen had enough money, in theory, to purchase every NFL franchise back when he broke into the league with the Seahawks in the 1990s. He still got taxpayers to direct millions toward a new stadium. That was a good business move by him and one way to make sure the community was committed to football in the region. Expect Kroenke to go the same route. The Rams will want a new stadium and they will consider relocating if the stadium issue isn't resolved to Kroenke's liking.

Grubman on a timetable for cross-ownership compliance: "There are three specific times. Stan will begin his complete focus on league activities within several months and Stan will have completed his withdrawal from the Denver operations of the two sports franchises by the end of this year. Finally, Stan has agreed unconditionally to be in compliance with our cross-ownership policies no later than December of 2014."

Sando's thoughts: Rams fans in St. Louis should shudder when they hear the year 2014 mentioned in relation to their team. That's when the Rams will almost certainly be able to vacate their stadium lease under terms requiring the Edward Jones Dome to rank among the NFL's top eight stadiums at that time. Back to Grubman's comments. The league wanted to welcome Kroenke as one of its owners, so it was willing to bend the cross-ownership rules for the time being. The league has made similar allowances for ownership changes in Seattle and Miami.

Grubman on former majority owner Chip Rosenbloom's continued involvement: "That’s a structural question. The Rosenblooms are going to continue to own a stake for a period of years so they will be limited partners. There is an agreement between the two parties -- the sellers, the Rosenbloom family and Mr. Kroenke -- as to what would happen with that stake over time. I’m going to leave the specific details confidential in respect to both of the families, but suffice it to say that there is a mechanism that is already in place should Stan, over the course of the next several years, decide to buy in that stake."

Sando's thoughts: Kroenke will be the one controlling the team. The rest is details.

The Rams' ownership just got a lot more sophisticated. Kroenke is in another league as a businessman. The team will gain stability and improve over time, but it's still unclear whether that brighter future will be spent in St. Louis or elsewhere. That part hasn't changed.
The St. Louis Rams have announced Stan Kroenke's approval as majority owner without specifying how the arrangement complies with NFL rules on cross-ownership.

The news release reads in part, "Kroenke currently is the owner of the Colorado Avalanche (NHL), Denver Nuggets (NBA), the Colorado Rapids (MLS) and the Colorado Mammoth (NLL). He is also the largest shareholder of Arsenal FC of the English Premier League."

I've requested clarification from the league. Kroenke is expected to transfer ownership of the Nuggets and Avalanche to his son, Josh, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The bottom line for Rams fans: The team now has an owner with deeper pockets and a proven record of success when controlling sports franchises. The move should excite Rams fans. The current leadership should be excited and anxious at the same time. It's unclear what Kroenke might think about general manager Billy Devaney, coach Steve Spagnuolo or executive vice president Kevin Demoff.

Kroenke has surely been watching closely as Rams minority owner. To my knowledge, though, he has had very little direct contact with the Rams' current football leadership. I would expect few changes this season because there simply isn't enough time before the opener to consider significant moves.

It's a safe bet, though, that Kroenke will put his stamp on the team during the next offseason. At the very least, the current regime needs to win a few games and provide evidence that Sam Bradford was the right choice with the first overall choice in the 2010 draft.

The Rams provided a chart showing a year-by-year accounting of their majority owners. Some of the years overlap. I divided the seasons this way when putting together won-lost records for each ownership regime: The 1937 through 1941 season records went to Homer Marshman; the 1942 through 1972 seasons went to Dan Reeves; the 1973 through 1979 seasons went to Carroll Rosenbloom; the 1980 through 2008 seasons went to Georgia Frontiere; and the past two seasons went to Chip Rosenbloom.

Around the NFC West: Kroenke's bid

August, 3, 2010
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Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams owner Chip Rosenbloom expects NFL owners to vote on Stan Kroenke's bid during an Aug. 25 meeting. Rosenbloom: "We're optimistic that the transaction will be supported by the owners and the league. Our relationship with Stan has been and continues to be excellent. We're finalizing documents and expect it to be voted on Aug. 25." All signs point to approval for Kroenke, the Rams' current minority owner.

Also from Thomas: Free-agent wide receiver Danario Alexander passed a physical exam with the Rams, but left without a contract. Alexander planned to meet with the Seahawks as well.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says hot conditions are affecting the Rams at training camp. Coach Steve Spagnuolo: "I don't think you want to [practice in the heat] all the time. Then you get a weak team and a team coming out of training camp that's just beat up and burnt. We don't want to do that. But it's early right now, so the heat's good … to get the team acclimated to this particular environment. We're going to play some games in some warm weather, especially early in the season."

Bryan Burwell of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Rams camp is different with Sam Bradford onboard. Burwell: "That nothing bad or crazy or weird or goofy or tragic or just plain stupid cropped up at the 11th hour to keep Bradford from reporting on time might not seem like a miracle to anyone who doesn't follow the Rams closely. But to long-suffering Rams loyalists who have spent an eternity hoping for the best but always, always expecting the worst, this was a refreshing change of pace."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says Bradford offers a start, but nothing more. Gordon: "Aside from Bradford, running back Steven Jackson and perhaps rookie wide receiver Mardy Gilyard, how many skill position Rams would interest other teams? Their most polished receiver, Laurent Robinson, has just 55 career receptions. He runs crisp routes but can’t stay healthy. Speedy Donnie Avery has 100 catches in two seasons, but he looks more like a No. 3 receiver than a true No. 1. The obscure supporting cast behind these two includes Keenan Burton, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola, Brooks Foster and Jordan Kent."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat quotes former Rams coach Dick Vermeil this way on Bradford's new contract: "I wouldn't advise him to turn it down. I think if you give the money to the right kind of people, it doesn't change anything. It adds a sense of responsibility to meet that commitment that the organization has made to him. Obviously they would have invested that kind of money if they didn't feel he was mature enough to handle it, and keep it in the proper perspective. From what everybody says, he is the kind of guy who will want to prove he is worth every dollar.''

Also from Korte: Linebacker James Laurinaitis is more comfortable in his second NFL season.
NFLPA president Kevin Mawae entered the NFL with the Seattle Seahawks, so I'll use that distant NFC West connection as cover to address the subject of the day.

Mawae makes an understandable point when he looks at the Packers' recently released financial data showing shrinking profits and says, "It's 1/32nd of the financial information we've requested in response to their demand that we give back $1 billion and increase our risk of injury by playing two additional games."

But if the Packers' information showed profits rising by significant chunks each year, you can bet Mawae and the NFLPA would be far less interested in context. They would be holding up the information as evidence owners have gotten too greedy.

Some owners do face financial challenges. The St. Louis Rams' Chip Rosenbloom is selling the team primarily because he couldn't afford estate taxes following his mother's passing. If owning an NFL team ensured massive profits, Rosenbloom would presumably have the resources to stick it out.

Also: Former Packers executive Andrew Brandt offers thoughts on the latest report.
Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers could slash payroll by targeting their secondary. Nate Clements is getting closer to the heavily backloaded part of his contract. Barrows on safety Michael Lewis: "Lewis' status this year largely depends on Taylor Mays' progress. My guess is that Lewis begins the season as the safety starter and that Mays gradually takes over as the year goes on (provided that Lewis remains healthy)."

Matt Maiocco of CSNBayArea says the 49ers are working toward a contract agreement with Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis. Maiocco: "But can the 49ers, among the lower-revenue teams in the NFL, afford to pay Davis so soon after (Patrick) Willis was awarded a five-year, $50 million extension? It’s a legitimate question for an organization that is campaigning for a new stadium that would provide a huge increase in revenue streams." The 49ers have shown creativity in how they structure deals. If they really want to sign Davis, they can get it done.

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider revisits some of the 49ers' disappointing first-round picks over the years. Jim Druckenmiller makes the list.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times checks in with Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry, who fizzled out after a strong start to the 2009 season. O'Neil: "There has been a lot of speculation that Curry might play the hybrid linebacker/end role that has been referred to as 'the elephant' but is actually called 'the Leo' in Seattle's defensive scheme. That's not Curry's role now, though. He is playing strongside -- or SAM -- linebacker, but expect him to have a heavy dose of pass-rushing responsibilities."

Also from O'Neil: Signing Chester Pitts would add depth to Seattle's offensive line.

Jason LaCanfora of NFL.com says the draft-day energy Pete Carroll and John Schneider brought to Seattle was palpable. LaCanfora: "I could have sworn Seahawks coach Pete Carroll was going to hoist himself on the shoulders of general manager John Schneider and begin galloping around the war room like Angus Young jamming above the head of Bon Scott at an AC/DC concert."

John Morgan of Field Gulls sizes up the Seahawks' defensive line. In watching minicamp, I wondered if the new staff would find a place for Craig Terrill, who has put together a six-year run in Seattle as a sixth-round pick.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic offers thoughts on the Cardinals following their post-draft camp. He also says coach Ken Whisenhunt left open the door for the team signing another veteran quarterback to a team that already has Matt Leinart and Derek Anderson. Whisenhunt: "We've got two rookies who are vying for the third position and we feel good about Derek and Matt. I don't think we would ever not look at a player if we felt like he could help us win games, but at this point in the season, with what we have on the roster, I'm very encouraged by what we saw from Matt and Derek. But I am realistic about the rookie being the third quarterback and the progress he's going to have to make to fill that role."

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with former Steelers teammates Joey Porter and Clark Haggans, who are reunited in Arizona. Urban: "For the third time, Porter and Haggans are teammates. They met playing together at Colorado State University. They were each drafted -- a year apart -- by the Pittsburgh Steelers, spending seven seasons together. And now, after Porter signed a free-agent deal with the Cardinals in March, the two 33-year-olds have been reunited in Arizona."

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch raises questions about the recent report suggesting Stan Kroenke's plan to buy the Rams might involve Kroenke's wife taking over the team. Thomas: "On April 12, Kroenke exercised a right of first refusal to match Shahid Khan's purchase agreement with the Rams. Kroenke has to match Khan's agreement. It is believed Kroenke would not be allowed to match and then put together a group to represent the match. It also is believed that he would not be allowed to match Khan's offer and then say -- essentially -- that it's really his wife who is matching. Some league sources feel that if Kroenke's wife, Ann, were an option, Kroenke would've proposed this to Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez nearly two years ago, or several months after the death of their mother, Georgia Frontiere. That's when it became clear that the team could be up for sale."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the latest reported Kroenke proposal is one of several options being floated as Kroenke tries to comply with NFL rules on cross-ownership. Miklasz: "Why didn’t Ann Kroenke simply bid for the Rams at the time the Rosenblooms had their 60 percent share on the market? This would have been easier than (A) having Stan Kroenke match Khan and (B) Kroenke having to work around the cross-ownership guidelines. (Likely answer: the Kroenkes didn’t want to get in a bidding battle with Khan that would drive the price up; they probably preferred to wait, let Khan make a reasonable bid, then match. I’m only guessing here.)"

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams were pleased with Duke rookie quarterback Thaddeus Lewis at their post-draft camp. Coats: "Sam Bradford and veteran A.J. Feeley -- not necessarily in that order at this point -- appear to be in place as the Rams' top two quarterbacks. After the release last week of Mike Reilly, who spent the last month of the 2009 season with the team, the only other QBs on the roster are Lewis and Keith Null. Because of injuries to Marc Bulger and Kyle Boller, Null, a sixth-round draftee last year, started the last four games of his rookie season. He's probably in line for the No. 3 job — but could face a challenge from Lewis."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News Democrat wonders how Kroenke's wife could exercise Kroenke's option to purchase full ownership of the Rams.
Todd C. Frankel of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch profiles Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke, who tells him: "Pro sports has to be financially responsible. And there's this idea out there that it really doesn't have to be, that you can throw money at it."

Also from Frankel: Kroenke's thoughts on various issues. The would-be full owner of the Rams guarantees the team will be good again. He also suggests the team has erred in the process used to pick players. Kroenke: "The Rams, we've had streaks where we were damn competitive for a long time. We were the best of the best. So what we have to do in the Rams is smooth that out a little. And I think with the Rams, I think with Chip [Rosenbloom, who is selling his majority stake in the team], I think we got off in how we were picking our players and that's what hurt."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch offers thoughts on how Kroenke, owner of the NBA and NHL teams in Denver, might run the Rams. Miklasz: "It's interesting to note the disparate management structures of each franchise. The Avalanche have a standard operation with a team president, GM, coach and the usual player personnel/scouting department. The Nuggets, however, have a complex structure, with four executives forming a veritable basketball committee."

Turf Show Times' VanRam explains why he likes the Rams' decision to trade Alex Barron for Bobby Carpenter. VanRam: "The Rams get the OLB they need, and though Bobby Carpenter hardly qualifies as a prospect anymore, he is young -- he'll be 27 this season -- and still has potential. Carpenter was the last first round pick of the Parcells Era in Dallas, a classic example of a prospect whose development was hurt by regime change. He should be better suited to a 4-3 defense, and, as I mentioned yesterday, the Rams coaching staff has a good track record for developing linebackers."

Clare Farnsworth of seahawks.com touches on several subjects during a run through the mailbag. Farnsworth on middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu, who missed most of last season after suffering a torn pectoral: "Tatupu’s recovery from the torn pectoral that forced him to miss the final 10 games last season has been very visible. At the first minicamp in April, the three-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker took part only in seven-on-seven and individual drills. At last week’s minicamp, Tatupu was full-go -- meaning he took part in full-team drills, as well as the seven-and-seven and individual segments. Tatupu, of course, played for (Pete) Carroll at USC. And Carroll recently explained the importance of having Tatupu on the field when asked about Aaron Curry’s performance during his rookie season.

David Dalati of FoxSportsHouston.com quotes free-agent guard Chester Pitts as saying Seattle remains the most likely destination for him. Pitts says his surgically repaired knee is about 85 percent healthy and he hopes to be ready for practices by late June. The Seahawks have less of a need after signing Ben Hamilton, but they have also stressed the importance of competition. If Pitts were healthy and affordable, why not bring him aboard and at least let him continue recovering from knee surgery as a backup?

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune takes a look at the Seahawks' struggles in the red zone last season.

John Morgan of Field Gulls explains why he likes the Seahawks' selection of injured cornerback Walter Thurmond.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic expects the Cardinals to stick with their current quarterbacks for 2009. He also expects guard Deuce Lutui to sign his restricted free-agent tender by June 15. Somers: "He hasn't signed his qualifying offer and last I heard the team wasn't going to pull it off the table. That would make no sense. After June 15, the team can replace that $1.759 million tender with one that's worth about $600,000. Unless something is going on with Lutui that we don't know about, he's expected to sign the higher tender before the deadline."

David Ginsburg of The Associated Press checks in with former Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin, who recently participated in his first camp with the Ravens.

John Wildermuth of the San Francisco Chronicle cites evidence suggesting the 49ers on their way to getting public approval for a new stadium in Santa Clara. Wildermuth: "It's going to be an uphill battle for the stadium opponents. A poll released late last month by the San Jose Mercury News and KGO-TV found that 52 percent of likely voters in Santa Clara supported the stadium plan while 36 percent intended to vote against the measure, and there has been little to suggest the numbers have moved much since then. The stadium also has the enthusiastic support of government, business and labor leaders in the community, including five of the seven council members, the trustees of the Santa Clara Unified School District, the president of the city's Chamber of Commerce and a variety of other officials."

Gwen Knapp of the San Francisco Chronicle shows how family helped shape 49ers rookie Mike Iupati. Also, Iupati said he once preferred professional wrestling to the NFL. Knapp: "In fact, that became his backup career plan. As he went through the University of Idaho, becoming an All-American and a finalist for the Outland Trophy, which recognizes the best college lineman, Iupati had every reason to believe that he would end up in the NFL. But if he didn't, his time in football had taught him something important: 'I'm very competitive, and I need to use my body and use all this energy.' "
Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke, known as "Silent Stanley" for his aversion to public discourse, wants to assure nervous St. Louis fans that his motives for purchasing full control of the team are pure.

"I'm going to attempt to do everything that I can to keep the Rams in St. Louis," Kroenke told Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "Just as I did everything that I could to bring the team to St. Louis in 1995. I believe my actions speak for themselves."

Kroenke's comments to Miklasz mark the first interview the billionaire has given since exercising an option to purchase the remaining 60 percent of the team. A recent report in the Sports Business Journal suggested Kroenke was more concerned with leveraging his 40 percent stake than taking control of the team.

"There's a track record," Kroenke told Miklasz. "I've always stepped up for pro football in St. Louis. And I'm stepping up one more time."

Kroenke's comments to Miklasz show he cares about perceptions. Current majority owner Chip Rosenbloom also spoke out for Kroenke as part of Miklasz's column.

These comments mark a welcome step for Rams fans.

The Big Question: Kroenke's motives

April, 20, 2010
4/20/10
1:00
PM ET
» NFC Big Question: East | West | North | South » AFC: East | West | North | South

Does Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke have the team's best interests in mind?

[+] EnlargeStan Kroenke
Garrett W. Ellwood/MLS/Getty ImagesRams minority owner Stan Kroenke's interests have been called into question.
A subscription-required report Monday in the Sports Business Journal suggested Kroenke was more interested in leveraging his 40 percent stake in the Rams than taking over full ownership of the team.

Reporter Daniel Kaplan cited sources saying Kroenke told Rams bidder Shahid Khan he would decline to exercise his option to purchase full ownership of the team in exchange for a "mid-to-high eight-figure fee." Kroenke would have remained onboard as 40 percent owner in such a scenario. Khan declined, Kaplan reported, and Kroenke then exercised his option to trump the bid from Khan.

The report seemed to run counter to what a source told Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, that Kroenke "fully intends to work with the NFL to find a way for Kroenke to become the team’s 100 percent owner."

The reporting from Kaplan and Miklasz isn't necessarily conflicting. The businessman in Kroenke could have simply been exploring his options before committing to buying full ownership of the team. That's his right and arguably his duty as a businessman.

This wasn't the first time Kaplan had reported Rams-related ownership news running counter to conventional wisdom. Kaplan previously cited sources saying the NFL had concerns about debt levels associated with Khan's bid to buy out 60 percent owners Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez.

That news and the conventional wisdom -- that Khan' financial footing appeared sound -- weren't necessarily at odds, either. The NFL could have had specific concerns. Khan could have been on solid footing overall.

My take? We're operating without enough information to fully assess the balance between Kroenke's interests and the extent to which those interests benefit the Rams.

Don Elliman, described by The New York Times as chief operating officer for the state of Colorado and former president of Kroenke Sports Enterprises, has suggested Kroenke isn't much for minority ownership. He wants full control. Elliman put it this way for a Times profile on Kroenke: "There was once a great line by one of George Steinbrenner’s partners that there’s nothing so limited as being a limited partner. A lot of people get into sports and wake up later and realize, 'I'm along for the ride; I'm beholden to the other guy.' That’s not Stan's nature."

It's not much to go on.

The timing of this ownership uncertainty is undoubtedly inconvenient for the Rams as they approach the 2010 NFL draft holding the top overall choice and hoping to win over fans. But the business of changing ownership is bigger than the business of the draft. Assurances from Kroenke would certainly help. The absence of those assurances naturally leads to skepticism, which is warranted, but if this process has taught us anything, it's that we shouldn't assume too much too soon.
Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been out front on many Rams-related ownership stories, including the first report about Chip Rosenbloom and Lucia Rodriguez seeking to sell the team.

When news broke that minority owner Stan Kroenke wanted to buy full ownership, a move that trumped a bid from Shahid Khan, Miklasz accounted for various possibilities.

"One theory making the rounds is that Kroenke is pulling the power play as a ploy to get Khan to offer him more money for the 40 percent share," Miklasz wrote nearly a week ago. "But I talked to enough people in the know Monday night who insist that this is no game -- and that Kroenke genuinely wants to gain 100 percent control of the Rams and he believes there is a way to get it done with the NFL."

Daniel Kaplan's subsequent report for Sports Business Journal suggests it might be a ploy after all. The report, hidden behind a pay wall, would explain how Kroenke could make his ownership bid without worrying about cross-ownership rules that could affect his ownership of the NBA and NHL teams in Denver.

The involved parties have kept their public comments to a minimum. Uncertainty surrounding the Rams makes it tougher for the organization to credibly connect with St. Louis. That makes it tougher to sell tickets.

Update: More from Miklasz.
Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Shahid Khan plans to stand by Stan Kroenke's pending attempt to purchase full control of the Rams. Khan: "Earlier this evening, Stan advised me that he was going to pursue that opportunity (to purchase controlling interest in the Rams). I have had the chance to get to know Stan over the past 60 days. As I told Stan during our conversation earlier this evening, I enjoy his company, admire his success in sports, and certainly respect his right to try to purchase the Rosenbloom family's interest in the Rams."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expresses surprise at Kroenke's seemingly bold move. Miklasz: "One theory making the rounds is that Kroenke is pulling the power play as a ploy to get Khan to offer him more money for the 40 percent share. But I talked to enough people in the know Monday night who insist that this is no game -- and that Kroenke genuinely wants to gain 100 percent control of the Rams and he believes there is a way to get it done with the NFL." As Miklasz notes, the timing is poor for the Rams. But no matter what happened Monday, the league was going to begin a more earnest review of an ownership bid. The league is more familiar with Kroenke than Khan.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat recounts the evening Khan and Kroenke spent together at a Denver Nuggets game in February. Balzer on Kroenke: "Does he plan to challenge NFL cross-ownership rules? Will he sell the Nuggets and Avalanche? Does he have something up his sleeve where he would transfer ownership of those teams to family members? Kroenke’s son, Josh, a former basketball player at Missouri, is currently vice president of player development for the Nuggets."

Tim Klutsarits of examiner.com offers thoughts on Kroenke's bid. Klutsarits: "From a business perspective the move by Stan Kroenke tells me one of two things. The first is that he thinks he has enough votes from the NFL owners to waive the cross-ownership rule for him. ... The second option would be that Kroenke is making a business move and is wanting to get paid. ... I can't believe that the NFL would be interested, in the midst of trying to negotiate a new contract, in getting in a nasty court dispute over cross ownership. I don't know if they would win but I do know that they would not want to get in front of a jury or judge to make that decision. Stan Kroenke knows this too."

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee says the 49ers are meeting with tackle Vladimir Ducasse and receiver Dez Bryant as part of their draft preparations. Bryant and Michael Crabtree share the same agent, by the way, and Bryant could wind up getting drafted later than his talent would suggest. Sound familiar? Barrows: "Will the 49ers take a Big 12 receiver represented by Eugene Parker in two straight drafts? Boy, I really don't see it happening, but the 49ers are adding a bit of intrigue by bringing the Oklahoma State wideout in for a visit. My read on Bryant is that he's more physically gifted than Michael Crabtree but lacks Crabtree's intensity. Perhaps the 49ers figure that a passing offense that features Crabtree, Bryant and Vernon Davis is too dangerous to pass up. Or maybe they're appearing interested to drum up a draft-day trade. Who knows? (Which is exactly what the 49ers want the league to think). It's noteworthy that both Mike Singletary and Trent Baalke attended Bryant's workout in Lufkin, Texas last month."

Also from Barrows: Drafting Anthony Davis to play right tackle would give the 49ers more than one player known for inconsistent play on the right side of the line.

Matt Maiocco of the Santa Rosa Press-Democrat says the 49ers are probably just doing their diligence by meeting with Bryant.

Brian McIntyre of scout.com expects former Saints defensive back Joe Porter to participate in the Seahawks' upcoming minicamp on a tryout basis. Seattle is low on numbers at defensive back and on the offensive line, at least by offseason standards. It's looking like the team could have a large number of tryout players for the camp beginning Tuesday.

Danny O'Neil of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks aren't expecting to see tackle Walter Jones at their voluntary minicamp, the latest indication Jones might not return. O'Neil: "Jones' agent has not returned repeated messages about his client's status, and attempts to contact Jones have not drawn a response. The Seahawks have acknowledged Jones is considering retirement, but were awaiting a firm, final conclusion from Jones. Seattle's approach to prepare for life after Jones is the only pragmatic one at this point. Jones is 36, and he has undergone two knee surgeries and missed 20 regular-season games since last suiting up. The Seahawks banked on his ability to come back and play left tackle last season, and when he couldn't, the offensive line never recovered."

Also from O'Neil: the latest on Leroy Hill. O'Neil: "He was arrested and taken to the Issaquah City Jail for investigation of misdemeanor assault. Hill was not included among the online listing of inmates Monday afternoon, indicating he had been released. A date for his arraignment could not be determined."

Eric D. Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune has this to say about Pete Carroll's first minicamp as Seahawks coach: "Carroll’s focus during his first months on the job has been to create a competitive environment where all starting positions are up for grabs. That was evident in the team’s move to trade for San Diego restricted free agent quarterback Charlie Whitehurst, signing him to a two-year, $8 million deal with the expectation that he will push veteran quarterback Matt Hasselbeck for the starting quarterback job."

John Morgan of Field Gulls says it's pretty clear the Seahawks have strong faith in the 2010 draft class.

Darren Urban of azcardinals.com checks in with nose tackle Gabe Watson, who is attempting to overcome knee troubles. Urban: "Watson said he’s down about 30 pounds from the end of the season. He needs to build back up some muscle mass, but ideally, he’ll play at 315 or 320 pounds. That’ll help his quickness and agility, important at a position where he’s the starter for now, especially with veteran Bryan Robinson still un-signed and a question mark to return. But Watson is also doing it with an eye on his star-struck knees and also his post-football life." This item makes even clearer the Cardinals' obvious need for a nose tackle heading into the draft. Unless I'm missing something, bringing back Robinson could be a necessity even if the team does draft at the position.

Expect approval for Rams' Kroenke

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
9:41
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Rams minority owner Stan Kroenke must have been busy over the past two months.

His attempt to buy out the remaining 60 percent ownership stake from Chip Rosenbloom, surprising on the surface, suggests Kroenke has been working hard to make sure the NFL would back his efforts.

Kroenke
Kroenke
We should expect all parties to emphasize process over the coming weeks, but it's an upset if Kroenke's efforts fail. There's little chance a man with Kroenke's financial credentials and knowledge of the NFL would exercise this option in vain, is there?

The assumption had been that the NFL's rules against cross-ownership might preclude Kroenke from exercising his option to purchase the Rams outright if Rosenbloom decided to sell. Kroenke had 60 days to announce his decision once Illinois businessman Shahid Khan made an offer. Kroenke already owns the NBA and NHL teams in Denver, meaning his majority ownership of the Rams could threaten the Broncos. But his deep pockets and familiarity could appeal to the league, possibly giving Kroenke the leverage he needs to push through his bid.

"We are pleased to announce that we have exercised our right to purchase the remaining interest in the St. Louis Rams football team under the terms of our Partnership Agreement," Kroenke said in a news release. "We have enjoyed our involvement in the National Football League since our original expansion efforts beginning in 1993 and our subsequent 15-year partnership with the Rams. We look forward to working with the Rosenbloom family and the NFL. We will respect the league and its processes in our efforts to complete this transaction."

Kroenke knows those processes very well. NFL owners know Kroenke. They know his finances.

"Today we received notice that Stan Kroenke has exercised his right of first refusal under the St. Louis Rams Partnership Agreement to purchase the Rosenbloom family's controlling interest in the team," Rosenbloom said in a release from the Rams. "We and our advisors will work with the National Football League as we move forward with the objective of completing a transaction for the sale of our interest in the Rams."

Kroenke's ownership bid came as a surprise. It's a bigger surprise if he made that bid without knowing it would succeed in the end.

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