The only team that’s allowed to begin contract negotiations with draft prospects before the draft is the team that has the first overall pick. The St. Louis Rams are taking advantage of that.
Rams Executive VP of Football Operations Kevin Demoff said he has had discussions with the agents for Oklahoma quarterback Sam Bradford, Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, Oklahoma defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and Notre Dame quarterback Jimmy Clausen.
“All the people who are in the discussion [for No. 1 overall], we’ve talked to their agents,” Demoff told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’re really just comparing notes. Also, it may take some time, so we figured we’d get a head start.”
Talking to multiple players could give the Rams some negotiating leverage in attempting to get their top choice to agree to a team-friendly contract before the draft, but Demoff said that’s not what these discussions are about.
“It’s not a thing about playing them off against one another,” Demoff said. “I don’t really believe that that works. It’s a complicated deal. It’s got a lot of moving parts. You’re just getting the sense for which parts are important for which people. So if you get down that path . . . you’ve already done a lot of the legwork.”
Even though they’re already talking to agents four weeks before the draft, the Rams won’t necessarily get a deal done before NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announces their pick, as the Lions did with Matthew Stafford in 2009 and the Dolphins did with Jake Long in 2008.
“The goal is to get the right deal for the right player that you want to draft,” Demoff said. “If that happens before the draft, great. If it doesn’t happen before the draft, then we’ll spend May, June and July working on it.”