Rams cut Isaac Bruce

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Rams cut Isaac Bruce
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
03/05/2006

Unable to reach agreement on a contract extension with wide receiver Isaac Bruce, the Rams released the four-time Pro Bowler on Sunday night.

"We do want Isaac to remain a Ram," Rams president of football operations Jay Zygmunt said. "We're still hopeful that we can get something done in the near future."

But there are no guarantees. Bruce is now free to negotiate and sign with any team, no strings attached. And one potential suitor that immediately comes to mind is the Detroit Lions, where former Rams coach Mike Martz is now offensive coordinator.

In the final analysis, the Rams were unwilling to carry Bruce's 2006 salary cap figure of $10.04 million under his old contract. Under terms of that deal, Bruce was scheduled to make $8.1 million this season, including a $1.5 million roster bonus due on the first day of the league year - that is, the start of the free agency and trading period.

That day got pushed back from midnight Thursday to midnight Sunday because of the labor negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players Association.

The delay gave Rams management and Bruce's agent, Jimmy Sexton, three more days to work on a deal. They talked numerous times over the weekend. The Rams offered several proposals beyond the three-year, $9 million extension that Bruce originally rejected.

But apparently, every proposal called for Bruce to make $5 million this season, or $3.1 million less than under the old deal. That proved to be too severe of a pay cut to Bruce's liking, particularly for a team that is about $10 million under the cap.

So shortly before 9 p.m. Sunday, the Rams informed Sexton they were releasing Bruce. The $8.1 million he was due to make this season is erased from the books, giving the Rams more than $18 million in cap space.

"We've looked at this situation the last several days and we weren't able to come to an agreement," Sexton said. "We'll keep working on it in the next several days and see if we can work something out."

In many ways, Bruce has been the face of the franchise since the Rams moved to St. Louis from Southern California in 1995. He is the team's career leader in receptions (813), reception yards (12,278) and receiving TDs (77). He was the franchise's first Pro Bowl player in St. Louis, and caught the game-winning TD pass against Tennessee in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Bruce's reception yardage total ranks 12th in NFL history, and his reception total ranks 14th in league history. But last season, he missed five games with a dislocated toe and finished with just 36 catches for 525 yards. Those were both low figures for Bruce since the 1998 season, when he played in only five contests because of hamstring problems.

"There's no player that we respect more than Isaac, both for his performance on the field and for his work in the community," Zygmunt said. "We just kind of ran out of time."

Bruce's release leaves the Rams with only two of their top five receivers from a year ago currently under contract: Torry Holt and Dane Looker. However, the Rams have made tender offers to restricted free agents Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald. Curtis and McDonald can receive offers from other teams, but the Rams can match any outside offers.
http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/sp...B234364527A623D1862571290011BDAE?OpenDocument
 
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