Behind Enemy Lines – Contract negotiations loom

One Cardinal wants to redo his original contract while two Ram veterans are going to be asked to re-work theirs and the 49ers have a player in mind for their franchise tag.

St. Louis – Rams insiders believe that veteran RB Marshall Faulk will return for his 12th season, but with his ailing knees it is still up in the air as of now. With mounting concerns over rookie RB Steven Jackson's durability, it is hoped that Faulk will return to keep the pressure off the young back from Oregon State.

The ideal situation for the Rams would be for Faulk to come back, at a reduced salary and a reduced role, while lending his skills as a pass-blocker and receiver out of the backfield to the mix in the team's multi-faceted offense.

Either way Faulk and WR Isaac Bruce, also entering his 12th season, will be asked to restructure their contracts this offseason to free up cap space. The two veterans combined are due to receive $16.87 million in salary in 2005.

Along the offensive line, the Rams will look much different than they did last season. It seems more and more likely that RT Kyle Turley, whether he is fully recovered from his back injury or not, will be playing elsewhere in 2005. His continued jabs at head coach Mike Martz through the media almost assure he won't be in a Ram uniform come September.

Also, Guards Tom Nutten and Chris Dishman's various injuries will likely cause both to finally retire sooner rather than later. Nutten gutted it out through the playoffs on a sore toe that will never heal and Dishman's knee hasn't healed to the team's liking. Nutten might have second thoughts but Dishman's playing days appear over.

Young, versatile linemen Scott Tercero and Blaine Saipaia are expected to be moved to different positions during the offseason so the team may be in the market for line help early in the Draft this April.

Arizona – Some, including the writer of this article, thought that head coach Dennis Green would give RB Marcel Shipp the chance to take over the running duties, now that Emmitt Smith has retired. Rumors coming out of the desert are running contrary to that assumption, as Green has made it known that the likely successor to the future Hall-of-Famer isn't on the roster right now.

Many think that Minnesota Vikings RB Michael Bennett is a likely candidate for a trade, but Green has also made it known he is not likely to trade his first or second round selections for the injury-prone Bennett.

At the eighth spot in the draft, the Cardinals are likely to have their choice of running backs to select from, and Green is said to be enamored with the talents of Auburn's Carnell "Cadillac" Williams. Williams is solid between the tackles and has enough speed to get outside, but his abilities as a pass-receiver are what could add another dimension to the Cardinals suddenly budding offense.

Trouble could be on the horizon for the Cardinals with third year wideout Anquan Boldin.

Boldin has made it known he is not happy with his current contract and many inside the organization think he could hold out of training camp if things aren't resolved to his liking.

San Francisco – Word out of the Bay Area is that LB Julian Peterson will be named the team's franchise player when free agency starts on March 2nd. Peterson sat most of last season with a torn Achilles tendon on his right leg, but he is well on his way to recovering fully and he should be ready by the start of the regular season.

Peterson was also reported to be "ecstatic" about playing for new linebackers/assistant head coach Mike Singletary.

On the offensive front, fans were excited to hear that new offensive coordinator Mike McCarthy is planning on bringing back Bill Walsh's West Coast offense in full force.

The bad news is he lacks the receivers necessary to run the offense effectively at this point and time.

Within the organization some are quietly concerned that the negotiating team of Paraag Marathe and Terry Tumey might be too inexperienced to negotiate the contract of the number one overall selection in this year's draft. Up to now, both of them have primarily worked on slotting rookie salaries, which is a far cry from negotiating salaries with free agents and draft choices.

.NET Reporter Scott Eklund writes for Seahawks.NET every week. Feel free to contact him at sctthawk@yahoo.com.


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