More than a week after St. Louis lost the Rams after 21 seasons, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon fired back at the NFL, via David Hunn of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Part of the task force that assembled a plan for a new stadium in St. Louis, Nixon charged the NFL with making up reasons to move the team to Los Angeles.
“It was very disappointing that we followed the guidelines, did what folks said, and that wasn’t enough here,” Nixon said. “When you look at everything that was done, we met the guidelines.”
The league countered by noting how much time the league spent helping cities plan their stadiums and “took a tremendous amount of information into account before making their decision.”
Stan Kroenke‘s Inglewood stadium cost has now risen to a stadium-record $2.66 billion, Hunn reports, and Nixon remains focused on trying to recoup the $16MM St. Louis spent on planning for the Rams’ prospective next riverfront stadium.
Here is the latest from the Western divisions.
- The Chiefs will begin marketing in the St. Louis area in an attempt to reach out to the fans left without a local team by the Rams’ exit, according to Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star. Although St. Louis is a baseball-centric city, Chiefs president Mark Donovan said the team will strategically go about seeking out new fans on the eastern side of the state that are now without a football team. Believe it or not, Donovan said Indianapolis has reached out to St. Louis about welcoming Rams fans under the Colts umbrella, and the Chiefs are hoping more of their contests will be available regionally in St. Louis now that 16 new time slots should be available.
- In an expansive look at assessing which free agents the Chiefs will keep and in what order they should address doing so, Paylor lists Eric Berry and Derrick Johnson as the team’s top two free agents to consider keeping. Tamba Hali, Sean Smith and Jaye Howard round out the top five, with Joel Corry of CBSSports.com painting Smith as a highest-bidder defector. “He’s also a guy that was in the worst free agent cornerback market in recent memory (in 2013). Nobody his year got over $6 million a year, so he’s not taking a discount,” Corry told Paylor. … I think he’s wearing silver and black next year. He’s a big corner, and (defensive coordinator) Ken Norton comes from Seattle, and they love big corners.” As for Berry, Corry expects the 27-year-old comeback player of the year candidate to be the top safety on the market and command a guarantee in the neighborhood of those given to Devin McCourty ($28.5MM) and Earl Thomas ($27.72MM). The former agent also notes the Chiefs, as they did with Jeremy Maclin last year, can backload the deal and give Berry around a $3.5MM cap figure in 2016 in an effort to help the team work toward keeping some of its defensive stars.
- 49ers GM Trent Baalke effectively pumped the brakes on those assuming a Chip Kelly–Colin Kaepernick union’s too promising to pass up, according to a CSNCalifornia.com report. “We’ve got two guys. Blaine (Gabbert) stepped in and did some awfully good things,” Baalke told 95.7 The Game in a radio interview. “Obviously, Colin has done a lot of good things through his career here. And Chip’s looking forward to getting together with both of them, and getting them on the field, and putting them into his system, and going to work.” Kelly’s already reached out to Kaepernick in an introductory manner, but Baalke isn’t ready to write off the 26-year-old Gabbert yet. Gabbert finished his audition with 10 touchdown passes, seven interceptions and a 63.1% completion rate. It marked the only time in his career the former first-round pick connected on more than 59% of his throws. Should the 49ers keep the 28-year-old Kaepernick on their roster past April 1, the embattled quarterback will have a team-high $15.89MM cap number. Gabbert’s set to make $1.75MM in base salary in 2016.