Rams are getting down to the business of the NFL off-season even before they get out to L.A.
They journeyed to Hawaii to play in the Pro Bowl and made the rounds as product pitchmen in San Francisco before the Super Bowl.
Rams running back Todd Gurley and defensive lineman Aaron Donald are now looking forward to another milepost in their travelogue: Arriving with former St. Louis teammates in Southern California.
“All I know is we’ll be [playing games] at the Coliseum,” Gurley said a few days before the Super Bowl. “To be continued.”
Said Donald: “We’re waiting to hear something before we start going out trying to find some place to live and things like that.”
Coordinating the franchise’s move from St. Louis to Los Angeles is one of many tasks that will keep the Rams busy during the NFL off-season, which officially began following the Denver Broncos’ Super Bowl victory over the Carolina Panthers on Feb. 7. The new league year begins next month.
Tuesday is the first day that teams can designate franchise or transition players.
Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are among 18 Rams players who will become free agents in March. Both are possible candidates to get the lone franchise tag. Players in that situation are required to stay with their current team for one season and they earn no less than the average of the top five salaries at their position, or 120% of their previous year’s salary, whichever is greater.
The NFL scouting combine begins Feb. 23 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
California’s Jared Goff, North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz and Memphis’ Paxton Lynch are among the quarterbacks who will be participating. Rams Coach Jeff Fisher and General Manager Les Snead have said that Case Keenum would go into training camp as the Rams’ starting quarterback. But Fisher also noted that “we’re always looking.”
Teams can begin contract negotiations with unrestricted free agents on March 7, two days before the signing period officially begins. Jenkins, Johnson, safety Rodney McLeod, safety/linebacker Mark Barron and defensive ends William Hayes and Eugene Sims are among 12 unrestricted free agents.
March 9 is the deadline to submit qualifying offers to restricted free agents for whom teams want to retain a right of first refusal. For the Rams, Keenum is a priority. Snead said last month that “we’re not going to let him go somewhere else.” April 22 is the deadline for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets. If Keenum accepts an offer sheet from another team, the Rams would have five days to match it and retain his services. If they lose him, the Rams could be granted one or more compensatory draft picks.
On April 18, teams with returning head coaches can begin off-season workout programs, known as organized team activities or OTAs.
“We just know April 18, we’ll be in L.A, and report to OTAs,” safety T.J. McDonald said. “We don’t know where it’s going to be at, but we’ll be there.”
The team is expected to conduct off-season training activities at the Oxnard facility that has been utilized by the Dallas Cowboys for training camp. The Rams spent three days practicing in Oxnard last August.
“I’m always ready to get back to work,” Donald said. “When the season’s over, it’s good to have a couple weeks off — and then you get bored after a while.
“You miss football, but I’m ready to get going. It’s a new city and new place, with fans watching us that are pumped up about us coming. So it’s going to be fun.”
The NFL draft will be April 28-30 in Chicago. The Rams have the 15th overall pick.
Teams can hold a three-day rookie mini-camp the weekend after the draft. Where the Rams would stage the mini-camp is still to be determined.
Gurley and Donald are looking forward to eventually getting settled.
“I know a couple people out there,” Gurley said. “I’ll be like the new kid on the block, just meeting people.”
Donald sounded as if he was ready for the season.
“A lot of fans out in L.A. are excited about us coming out there,” he said. “I’m ready to go out there and win some games for these guys and give these fans something to cheer about.
“That’s what it’s about: Winning games. And that’s what we’ve got to do.”
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