Wide receiver Henry Ellard will end his 90-day holdout today and sign a one-year contract with the Rams.
Instead of agreeing to a proposed five-year deal reportedly worth $2 million, Ellard, still upset with Ram management, will sign to play only for the remainder of the season.
Under an agreement reached by Ellard's agent, Mike Blatt, and Ram Vice President John Shaw, Ellard will receive 110% of his 1986 salary of $145,000, or $159,500.
Prorated over a 16-game schedule, Ellard will receive $9,968.75 for each of the Rams' remaining nine games, bringing his total salary for the season to $89,718.75.
Ellard drove from Fresno to Los Angeles Wednesday and is expected to sign the contract this morning at 10 in the Rams' offices.
The Rams confirmed the deal but had no official comment.
Ellard will practice with the team today and may be activated for Sunday's game against Atlanta at Anaheim Stadium.
"We all recognize his talent," Coach John Robinson said. "He's a good guy, and I think we all feel a sense of relief."
The Ram passing game has been abysmal this season, ranking last in the NFL. The team's leading receivers, Tony Hunter and Ron Brown, have only 15 receptions apiece.
Blatt, though, made it clear that this move does not resolve Ellard's long-term situation with the Rams.
Blatt said Wednesday that Ellard would again ask to be traded at the end of the season.
"This is a deep cut," Blatt said, describing his client's relationship during the three-month holdout. "We're just putting a Band-Aid over the artery. Henry's not coming back in for John Shaw, or Georgia (owner Georgia Frontiere). He's still ticked off at them. He's coming in for the fans and the team."
Ellard, in reality, had little choice but to report or sit out the season, especially when the Rams did not grant his wish to be traded to Indianapolis before the Oct. 14 trading deadline.
By sitting out, Ellard has lost insurance benefits and valuable time against his pension plan.
According to Blatt, the one-year contract was proposed to Shaw last Monday.
"There was a moment of silence that lasted about a minute," Blatt said. "I thought someone had hit him with a two-by-four across the eyes. He said, 'I don't know if we can do this, but I guess our hands are tied.' "
There are others, though, who might wonder who was holding the rope.
Blatt said Ellard rejected a proposed five-year deal from the Rams that Shaw claimed to be worth $2 million. Blatt said the deal included the Rams taking over payments on a $285,000 house mortgage over a 15-year period which, after interest, would total $650,000.
The proposed deal would have paid Ellard $86,000 this season, $250,000 in each of 1987, 1988 and 1989 and $450,000 in 1990.
"But if Henry didn't make the team or got hurt, the Rams would take the house back," Blatt said. "It was ludicrous."
So, for now, the Ellard ordeal is over.
"There are no winners and losers," Blatt said of the negotiations. "I think John Robinson wins and the Ram players win. But Henry does not win. And the Ram hierarchy doesn't win.
"I feel sorry for John Robinson because he's been like a father to Henry. But as far as Shaw and Georgia and Dominic (Frontiere, Georgia's husband) are concerned, I hope they trade Henry in January."
Ram Notes Because of his sore knee, quarterback Steve Bartkowksi did not practice with the first team Wednesday and may not start Sunday's game against Atlanta. "If Bart feels good tomorrow, he'll play Sunday," Ram Coach John Robinson said. "If not, Steve Dils will start." Robinson would not say whether this might be the week that he unveils rookie quarterback Jim Everett. "I need to be evasive about it," Robinson said of Everett. . . . Receiver Kevin House practiced with the Rams Wednesday, though he was slowed by a slight hamstring pull. House, Tampa Bay's all-time leading receiver, was released by the Buccaneers Monday and signed by the Rams Tuesday. "Even though Ellard is back, I still think I can help the team," House said. The 28-year-old receiver said he plans to play Sunday against Atlanta. House was earning $400,000 this season with the Buccaneers, though the Rams are in the process of renegotiating his contract. "That's not going to be a problem," House said. "I'm not going to be a holdout." . . . Negotiating note: House will be paid $25,000 for Sunday's game. That's one-sixteenth of his 1986 salary and $15,031.25 more than Henry Ellard will make for the same game.