By R.B. FALLSTROM, Associated Press
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The St. Louis Rams have hired Les Snead as their new general manager, bringing in another front-office veteran as they try to get out of the NFL cellar.
Snead spent the past 13 years with the Atlanta Falcons, the last three as director of player personnel. The Rams announced his hiring on Tuesday and planned an afternoon news conference.
The Rams are in the midst of an overhaul after winning just 15 games the past five seasons. They have the second overall pick in April's draft after going 2-14 last season.
The Rams have already hired a new coach in Jeff Fisher. He replaces Steve Spagnuolo, who was fired along with general manager Billy Devaney after going 10-38 in three seasons.
Snead oversaw college and pro scouting efforts for the Falcons, and the team said he played a key role in evaluating not just talent but the salary value of all player acquisitions. Before he arrived in Atlanta, he worked in pro scouting for the Jaguars from 1995-97.
Snead is a former tight end for Auburn, and he later was an assistant for the Tigers. He holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and a master's degree in education.
Fisher, who was hired after some serious input from owner Stan Kroenke, contends there is a strong core to build around as the Rams try to improve. Fisher agreed to a five-year contract worth a reported $7 million per season, and insisted on a list of about two dozen items, including the makeup of the coaching staff and front office.
He and Snead have a lot of work to do.
The franchise has averaged three wins per season under Scott Linehan, interim coach Jim Haslett and Spagnuolo, a far cry from the "Greatest Show on Turf" days that included a trip to the Super Bowl back in 2000.
St. Louis was considered a franchise on the rise after making a six-win improvement in 2010 and playing for the NFC West title in the finale. Instead, the Rams flopped in 2011, playing a brutal schedule and hampered by injuries.
The Rams haven't had a winning season since 2003, and they had the NFL's worst offense last season.
Besides that No. 2 draft pick, the Rams do have a handful of Pro Bowl-caliber talents including quarterback Sam Bradford, running back Steven Jackson, defensive end Chris Long and linebacker James Laurinaitis.
Bradford was the top overall pick in 2010 and was the NFL offensive rookie of the year, although last year he missed six games with a high left ankle sprain and threw only six touchdown passes.
Hanging over the Rams are questions about the franchise's future in St. Louis.
The St. Louis Convention & Visitors Commission unveiled a plan Feb. 1 that calls for $124 million in improvements to Edward Jones Dome in hopes of making sure the city doesn't lose another NFL team.
The Rams' lease with the commission requires the dome to be "first tier," or among the top 25 percent of all NFL stadiums in several categories. If it falls short, Kroenke can move the franchise after the 2014 season.
The Rams have until March 1 to accept or reject the commission offer. They can also make a counterproposal. Arbitration would begin June 15 if no agreement is reached, and the arbitration process could last through the end of the year.
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