by Frank Cooney

Rams find Stabler price tag too high

July 8, 1979
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Originally published by the San Francisco Examiner on July 08, 1979

By Frank Cooney

Examiner Staff Writer c-1979, S.F. Examiner

SANTA ROSA – Henry Pitts will be in for a rude awakening tomorrow morning. That’s when he will begin his search for a team interested in trading for his mam client. Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler.

“The first team I will call early Monday morning is the Los Angeles Rams.” Pitts said yesterday after receiving permission and agreeing to ground rules for such talks from Raiders managing general partner Al Davis.

Those ground rules, worked out through The Examiner, set the minimum requirements for a trade at two first round draft choices and two voting, healthy, quality players.

“But even if we were looking to upgrade that position, the price tag is just too high.”

Rams Executive VP Steve Rosenbloom

“That’s pretty stiff for a minimum requirement.” Steve Rosenbloom. Executive vice president of the Los Angeles Rams, told The Examiner yesterday. “We would be very happy to talk to Henry or Kenny, but they would be wasting their time if that’s what the minimum is. We aren’t going to pay two firsts and two players.

“Our philosophy has always been to hold on to those draft choices because they represent your future. I respect Ken Stabler’s abilities, but we would have to give up too much of our future in a deal like that,” he added.

And despite the seemingly annual call for a quarterback change in Los Angeles. Rosenbloom does not feel the Ranis even need to make a change, or so he says.

Raiders QB Ken Stabler talks with Raiders Head Coach John Madden
© Malcolm Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

“This is the first year since the Rams opened for business in that we don’t expect to have a quarterback controversy,” Rosenbloom said. “Some people are critical of Pat Haden, but we like him as our starting quarterback. And we like our No. 2 quarterback, Vince Ferragamo. And we just drafted Jeff Rutledge for down the road. So we feel we are well situated. 

“But even if we were looking to upgrade that position, the price tag is just too high,” Rosenbloom concluded.

Ironically, the Rams have already been involved in quarterback trades in the last six years that had similar price tags. In fact, it was on the basis of trades such as those that Pitts set the ground rules to which Davis agreed.

One involved Roman Gabriel in 1973 when he was 33 years old. which happens to be Stabler’s age today. Gabriel was traded from Los Angeles to Philadelphia for two first and one third round draft choice plus wide receiver Harold Jackson and running back Tony Baker. 

In 1974 the Rams swapped 34-year old quarterback John Hadl to Green Bay for two firsts, two seconds and a third.

So Rosenbloom is hardly in a position to laugh at Pitts’ offer or he would be openly insulting the Eagles and the Packers, whom he might just want to deal with again some time. Rosenbloom did offer his own perspective on the differences between those trades and the Stabler offer.

“There are usually extenuating circumstances when somebody pays that kind of price in a trade.” he said. “When we sent Hadl to Green Bay. for example, it was Packer coach Dan Devine who made us an offer we couldn’t refuse.

“I was just visiting their locker room after a game when Devine suggested it. They needed a quarterback desperately and we were in the process of benching Hadl and using James Harris, They were desperate and they made a big offer for somebody we weren’t even going to use as a starter.”

Nevertheless, based on those recent trades one couldn’t justifiably accuse Davis of overpricing Stabler. Pitts certainly would be hard pressed to complain about the price. Neither Hadl nor Gabriel were as good a quarterback as Stabler.

Pitts says he will also talk with the Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Certainly two major factors all those teams would have to consider are Stabler’s high salary and the condition of his knees. His marketability is diminished In both cases. His salary is high and his knees are bad.

The Atlanta Falcons are a young, building team that made the playoffs last year and appear to have a good future with 20-year-old quarterback Steve Bartkowski.

The New York Giants had a muddled quarterback situation last year.

But the Giants don’t have many players who fill the hill as young, healthy and quality.

In Tampa Bay, coach John McKay Is delighted with his second-year quarterback Doug Williams and probably has little or no desire to acquire Stabler.

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