Those Plan B wallflowers, the Rams, dived into the free-agent market Friday and came up with Curt Warner, a former marquee player whose recent statistics suggest that a few bulbs need replacing.
Warner is the third Plan B player signed by the Rams this off-season, but only the first anyone would recognize. He brings to the Rams a lengthy and impressive resume, but he also bloats the roster at a position that seemingly didn't need help.
Coach John Robinson now finds himself with a backfield that includes Greg Bell, Robert Delpino, Buford McGee, Cleveland Gary, Warner and the long lost Gaston Green, who is looking more like trade bait every day. The possibilities are interesting: Is Warner a backup? A replacement for Bell? A slotback to be?
Robinson didn't know for sure, but he did say that the Rams will soon reassess their backfield.
"I think he's a great back, and I think he can be again," Robinson said. "In terms of production, he's a championship type of player both as a runner and a receiver. I think he can make a big difference for us.
"It's a great opportunity for us. When you begin to evaluate teams that get world championships, they make those kinds of moves, be it the Lakers, San Francisco 49ers--it's a dynamic type of move. This may be the single biggest move in Plan B."
Warner wasn't available for comment Friday, but his agent, Marvin Demoff, said his client has been assured that a starting position was possible.
"I think Curt has total confidence," Demoff said.
Warner, 29, who holds every Seattle Seahawk rushing record, became expendable after a 1989 season during which he gained only 631 yards, averaged 3.3 yards a carry and scored only three touchdowns rushing--all career lows. In fact, it marked the fourth consecutive year that Warner's rushing average had declined.
"We had talked to some other teams, but Curt had a distinct priority where he wanted to play," Demoff said. "He had a very short list. The Rams were always his first choice."
Said Robinson of Warner: "I looked at him on film a lot. I feel very confident that this skills are intact."
Ram kicker Mike Lansford, who was left unprotected under Plan B, has ended talks with Phoenix and San Diego and has decided to remain with the Rams.
Lansford, the Rams' all-time leading scorer, recently built a home in Anaheim Hills.