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Rams Give Up Hill, Fuller in Bid for Everett : Oilers Also Get Draft Picks for Rights to Quarterback

September 19, 1986|CHRIS DUFRESNE | Times Staff Writer

The Rams, making a major move to secure their future while risking a large portion of it in the process, announced Thursday that they had traded All-Pro offensive guard Kent Hill, defensive end William Fuller and three draft picks to the Houston Oilers for the rights to former Purdue quarterback Jim Everett.

Besides Hill and Fuller, the Rams gave up their first- and fifth-round draft choices in 1987 and a first-round pick in 1988.

It was a lot to lose, but Coach John Robinson said it was a chance the franchise had to take.

"We paid full price," Robinson said Thursday. "We weren't looking for a bargain. But we made a dynamic move to be a major factor in the NFL for years to come."

Everett, the third player chosen in this year's draft behind Auburn's Bo Jackson and Oklahoma's Tony Casillas, was unable to reach a contract agreement with the Oilers.

Although the Rams have traded only for Everett's rights, Robinson said he doesn't expect that signing the quarterback will be a problem, considering what the Rams gave up for him.

Hill, 29, has played in the Pro Bowl five times. He was the Rams' first-round pick in 1979 and has not missed a game since. He was expendable, however, because of the Rams' depth at his position. The Rams' second-round pick, rookie Tom Newberry, will start in Hill's place Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts. Second-year guard Duval Love is an able backup.

"We have a high regard for Kent's ability," Robinson said. "But we have a high regard for the depth behind him."

Everett arrived in Los Angeles Thursday for a physical, and said contract negotiations will begin Monday.

"I'm so excited," Everett said by phone from the offices of Dr. Robert Kerlan, the Rams' team physician. "This is the best thing that's ever happened to me."

Everett spurned a four-year, $2.7-million contract offer from the Oilers, but said his reasons for not signing had more to do with the Oilers already having a quality quarterback in Warren Moon.

"It was just the fact that Moon is coming into his own," Everett said. "They wanted me for a couple years later, and that's the way they had the contract structured."

Everett, considered by many the top quarterback in college football last season, completed 572 of 965 passes for 7,411 yards and 43 touchdowns at Purdue. As a senior, he completed 63% of his passes for 3,651 yards and 23 touchdowns.

The Rams appeared to be out of the race for Everett earlier in the week when the quarterback's agent, Marvin Demoff, spoke with both the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers.

A Packer spokesman said the team reached an oral agreement with Everett late Wednesday afternoon, but the deal fell through.

The 49ers, who have lost quarterback Joe Montana for the season with a back injury, reportedly offered the Oilers two first-round picks next season, a second-round choice and nose tackle Manu Tuiasosopo for the rights to Everett.

But the Oilers reportedly backed down because the 49ers wouldn't include star nose tackle Michael Carter in the deal.

Houston General Manager Ladd Herzeg could not be reached for comment Thursday.

When the 49ers' offer soured, the Rams stepped in, forging a deal late Wednesday night.

"I went to bed with four different helmets on four different nights," Everett said of the last few days. "It's been very hard mentally."

Everett said those four teams were the Packers, Colts, 49ers and Rams.

Robinson would not publicly declare this a coup over the 49ers, the Rams' archrival in the NFC's Western Division.

"I don't compete with them off the field," Robinson said.

Robinson said he does not expect Everett to be much help this season. It is his plan to have Everett study under Steve Bartkowski, an 11-year NFL veteran.

"It's important that we give him the fundamental opportunity to be successful," Robinson said. "It's like the commercial, we will open no wine before it's time. It's important that we give Jim Everett his time."

The culmination of the deal, of course, leaves many questions unanswered.

What, for instance, does the move mean for quarterbacks Bartkowski, Dieter Brock and Steve Dils?

And what will become of quarterback Hugh Millen, the Rams' third-round pick this year? Wasn't he the quarterback of the future?

How does this affect wide receiver Henry Ellard, still holding out in a contract dispute? How can the Rams justify paying Everett what he's worth and not Ellard?

Robinson handled the quarterback question diplomatically, pointing out that all three of his quarterbacks are in their 30s and the Rams were merely securing their future.

"To put in the missing link, we had to get a quality quarterback," Robinson said. "We think Steve, Dieter and Steve are fine for this year. But, down the road, they're all on a short string."

Bartkowski is 33, Brock 35 and Dils 30.

Bartkowski took the news in stride.

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