Rams: While Keenum stabilizes QB, the long-range answer could beckon in the draft

BOCA RATON – There probably aren’t any new or exciting ways Rams general manager can explain that Case Keenum is the starting quarterback heading into the offseason program and training camp.

Yet Snead keeps getting getting asked about it, which means he has to answer. And when he does, he keeps saying essentially the same thing: Case Keenum is the starting quarterback heading into training camp.

A point he reiterated on Tuesday at the NFL’s annual league meetings in Florida.

The disconnect is how people interpret it. Or how they might confuse the confidence the Rams express in Keenum’s ability to stabilize the quarterback position with them being completely satisfied with the position moving forward.

The two thoughts aren’t mutually exclusive.

A distinction Snead is well versed having been with the Atlanta Falcons when they re-signed 2007 tail-end-of-the-season starter Chris Redman to a two-year deal and then drafted Matt Ryan in the first round.

But more on that in a bit.

The short and long of it being: The Rams believe Keenum gives them a chance to compete. But they are absolutely looking for their long-range quarterback.

They just don’t seem to think that quarterback exists in free agency. Which likely explains the lukewarm attention they’ve paid to options like Ryan Fitzpatrick and Robert Griffin III, whom they look at and believe – or at least hope – Keenum can be every bit as good as in 2016.

“So instead of going out and trying to find someone (in free agency) and then doing it all over again or, so many weeks in, say, ‘maybe we better go back to Case’ we felt like, let’s stabilize this thing, and that’ll give us a chance to compete.”

Although Snead also added: “But also be like any other team and say, ‘if that (long-range) guy is there, let’s go get him.'”

There being the draft, of course, which could provide the long-range answer the Rams are seeking in North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz or Cal’s Jared Goff, among other possibilities.

In that scenario, Keenum provides quarterback stability while the long-range quarterback develops.

A process that could take until the fourth game of this season or all the way to next year or perhaps three weeks into training camp.

You never know. Which is why Keenum holding down the fort becomes so important.

“Nowadays you’re getting to the point where it’s probably beneficial where you take someone that, they don’t have to play right away,” Snead said. “Because if you do draft someone and say: ‘he has to play by this date, it’s kind of like a false deadline, how do we even know that?”

Which brings us back to Chris Redman and Matt Ryan and the time Snead spent with the Falcons.

Much like Keenum did for the Rams at the tail end of 2015, Redman came off for the Falcons in 2007 and helped win some late-season games. The Falcons rewarded him with a two-year contract because, as Snead explained, he proved he could give them a chance to be competitive. Redman went into the offseason as the Falcons starting quarterback.

“But then we drafted Matt Ryan,” Snead said. “And we said, when Matt is ready to play, he’ll play.”

The Falcons didn’t put a timeline on it, believing Redman would be perfectly fine stabilizing the position Ryan developed.

Then they let the process play out.

“And lo and behold, after the third preseason, game we were like, Matt’s ready to play,” Snead explained.

The rest is history.

So while Keenum gives the Rams some stability, that doesn’t mean he’s the answer.

With Rams set in Los Angeles, L.A. waits on its “other” teams

BOCA RATON – The National Football League gathered on Monday at the sleek Boca Raton Resort for it’s annual league meetings. And for the first time in more than 20 years, the 32 owners making up the most popular sports league in North America aren’t looking quizzically at each other wondering how in the name of Pete Rozelle and Vince Lombardi and Deacon Jones the second biggest media market in the country is without a team.

At long last, the NFL’s Los Angeles problem has been solved – sort of – with the Rams being approved by fellow owners last January to return home to L.A., where they will spend three nostalgic seasons at the Coliseum before eventually moving into the $2.6 billion palace in Inglewood being built by owner Stan Kroenke.


“And you can certainly sense the excitement growing,” offered New York Giants owner Steve Tisch, a resident of 44 years in Los Angeles and one of the leading proponents to get the NFL back to Tinseltown.

And with that, the league can return to other pressing issues. Like expansion and global growth and player safety and what in the world actually constitutes a legal catch.

Or can they?

“There’s still another domino to fall,” a high-ranking league official said. “Maybe even a couple of them.”


With the Rams officially back in place in Los Angeles – they’ll arrive for good in early April upon closing up shop at their Earth City, Mo. headquarters – it’s easy to forget an entire chapter of the NFL back to Los Angeles saga remains unwritten.

The NFL approved two teams for L.A. relocation on that historic night in Houston two months ago, with the Chargers getting first dibs pending the outcome of their stadium push in San Diego.

The Raiders wait in the wings, their spot in L.A. – or perhaps Las Vegas or San Diego –predicated on the Chargers and San Diego coming together on a downtown stadium plan.

“We’re hopeful,” said Chargers owner Dean Spanos, who is counting on the support of the city and county of San Diego, the downtown hoteliers and labor leaders to create a unified front and the necessary momentum to push the plan over the top in a November vote.

If the vote succeeds, the Chargers stay in San Diego and the second spot in L.A. opens up for the Raiders. If it doesn’t, the Chargers most likely move to L.A.

“It’s ultimately in the hands of the people,” a league official said Monday. “They know what’s at stake. They know the Chargers have a guaranteed spot in Los Angeles, a safe landing place should a vote fail.”

As worst-case scenarios go, it’s really not a bad spot to be if you are the Chargers. Ideally they’d be setting up shop right now in L.A. and eying a 2019 opening of the stadium they hoped to build with the Raiders in Carson. But the NFL spoke loud and clear last January in Houston, and the message was they preferred the Inglewood site.

“It’s so much more than just a stadium,” Tisch said.

The key was protecting the interests of Spanos, which was insured when fellow owners put a Rams/Chargers Inglewood option onto the ballot to oppose the Raiders/Chargers Carson bid.

One way or another, Spanos would have an L.A. option to either seize or use as leverage to prod San Diego into a new stadium.

Or, as one owner said Monday: “(Spanos) got a confirmed seat on the plane. It might be a coach seat, but it’s confirmed.”

Meanwhile, with the Chargers in the batter’s box the Raiders stand in the on-deck circle. Maybe for 10 months. Maybe for two years.

It all depends on what happens in San Diego.

“We’re going to give Dean and the Chargers the space and time they need,” said Raiders owner Mark Davis. “It’s not frustrating, it’s just part of the process.”

Davis said Monday there is nothing new to report in Oakland. He remains open to working with the A’s – the Raiders roommates at the O.Co Coliseum – in which their shared stadium is torn down and replaced by new stadiums for each team.
But the A’s aren’t interested, and with a long-term lease in place with the O.co they hold most of the cards.

“You have to get the A’s the buy in,” Davis said. “And right now, their stance is, do what you guys have to do, we’ll do what we have to do.”

Which is why Davis waits patiently on the Chargers next move, at which point his options will emerge.

And while it seems clear cut the Silver and Black will return to L.A. if the Chargers stay put –barring a viable stadium plan in Oakland, the Raiders spot in Los Angeles is guaranteed – there is growing intrigue within the NFL on the stadium plan Las Vegas is putting together to potentially lure the Raiders.

“It’s a very, very intriguing and exciting plan,” said Davis, who met two months ago with Las Vegas Sands chairman and CEO Sheldon Adelson, who is proposing the $1 billion domed stadium on the UNLV campus.

If Adelson’s plan comes to fruition, it would essentially be a free stadium for the Raiders.
“And it’s hard to ignore $800 million,” a league official said.

Yes, there are concerns with placing a team so close to the temptations of Las Vegas – which Tisch alluded to on Monday – but others in the NFL see things differently.

With the Raiders in Las Vegas, the NFL can use the open spot in Los Angeles – and the Bay Area for that matter – as leverage to help build new stadiums across the league.

And as a league official pointed out on Monday, what’s to say Kroenke doesn’t back Davis on a move to Las Vegas, as it would mean him keeping L.A. all to himself?

“I think it would be a mistake to just write Las Vegas off,” a high-ranking league official said. “It’s all predicated on getting the financing in order, but if they do, considering the Raiders brand and how well it could play in Las Vegas and all the various other dots that can be connected, the Raiders would have a very compelling argument to make.

“By the way,” the league official added. “If you’re Mark Davis, would you rather share Los Angeles or be the master of your own domain in Las Vegas?”

Point being, the final act of the NFL back to L.A. drama isn’t yet written.

And that makes for another fascinating year.

NFL will be busy mulling rules changes next week in Florida

The National Football League will gather for its annual kick-off league meeting next week in Boca Raton, Florida, and among the items on the agenda are 19 playing rules proposals submitted by the league’s rules committee and various clubs.

You can check out the proposals here.

Among the proposals submitted by the rules committee are disqualifying a player who is penalized twice in one game for certain types of unsportsmanlike conduct fouls, and eliminating all forms of chop blocks.

Should be a spirited debate, to say the least.

Rams closing in on a deal with Quinton Coples

The Los Angeles Rams are closing in on a contract with former Jets first-round pick Quinton Coples, a source close to the situation said.

Coples agent, Chad Speck, confirmed the two sides had reached an agreement.

Coples never lived up to his first-round status over his three seasons in New York, notching a total of 16.5 sacks, before being cut by the Jets in November. Coples played the remainder of the season with the Miami Dolphins before being released last month.

For the Rams, it’s a low-risk, potential high-reward move for a 25-year-old defensive end with remaining upside. Coples could bolster a defensive end rotation that includes Robert Quinn, who is returning from a back injury, and Eugene Sims and William Hayes.

And Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams and defensive-minded head coach Jeff Fisher have a track record of figuring out ways to best utilize players who fell out of favor elsewhere. See Mark Barron.

According to NFL.Com, the deal for Coples is expected to be worth $6.5 million with a max value of $9.75 million.

Poll: If you are the Rams, how much are you willing to give up to get your QB?

The Rams slow play on addressing the quarterback position in free agency can be interpreted a few different ways.

  1. They are waiting for the quarterback market to emerge before getting serious about talking to free agents Ryan Fitzpatrick or Robert Griffin III.
  2.  They are confident Case Keenum and Sean Mannion can handle the position in 2016.
  3. They believe they will find their quarterback of the future in next April’s draft.
  4. They will rely on some combination of all of the above playing out over the next month or so.

After doing some poking around, my sense is the Rams are ok with rolling right now with Keenum, but hope to draft one of the top three quarterbacks next month in Chicago.

The question is, when they make their first-round selection at No. 15, will at least one of North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, Cal’s Jared Goff or Memphis’ Paxton Lynch still be available?

If I’m the Rams, my concern is that the Cowboys at No. 4, the 49ers at No. 7 and the Eagles at No. 8 are all strong possibilities to take quarterbacks. And if we are to assume the Cleveland Browns are taking Wentz at No. 2, it seems dubious Goff and Lynch both get through the Cowboys, 49ers and Eagles gauntlet.

Which means they might seriously have to consider trading up to insure they get a chance to draft either Goff of Lynch. With the obvious trade target being the Ravens at No. 6.

Chances are, Goff and Lynch will both be on the board at No. 6. And it’s almost guaranteed at least one of them will be there.

According to WalterFootball.com’s NFL Draft Value Chart, the sixth pick carries a value of 1,600 points while the Rams 15th pick is worth 1,050. So, to trade up, the Rams need to come up with 550 points. Based on the draft chart, that means the Rams would have to trade their 15th pick plus the 43rd pick overall (2nd round, 470 points) and 110th pick (4th round 74 points) to get in the neighborhood.

On the surface, that’s a lot to give up to move up nine spots. But when you consider the Rams have two second-round picks (thanks to the Sam Bradford trade) it certainly makes it easier to digest knowing they’d pick again at No. 45.

Especially if they are convinced either Goff or Lynch can be their quarterback of the future, and the only way to guarantee they get a crack at one of them is by making a bold trade.

Rams fans, would you be on board?