On a day when two defensive starters underwent knee surgery and the prospects for the upcoming season looked bleak, the Rams ended a long summer of financial bickering and signed linebacker Kevin Greene to a three-year contract.
Terms were not disclosed, although Greene said Saturday night he did not get the $1 million per season he had sought. The Rams had been offering $750,000. It is believed the two parties split the difference.
To say the signing was the act of a desperate team would not be overstating the issue. The Rams, who left Washington late Friday night with 17 key players either injured or holding out, could feel a season of projected promise slipping away before it started.
Greene, who has 33 sacks the past two seasons, more than any other NFL player, said he watched the team's loss to the Redskins Friday night on television and decided that the stalemate must end.
The Rams, who spent the night carrying players off the field in stretchers, obviously concurred.
"I felt anxious," Greene said. "We needed to get it done. We're hurting, and the Rams felt a sense of urgency."
Greene and his agent, Marvin Demoff, met with Rams General Council Jay Zygmunt at a Marina Del Rey restaurant Saturday. Three hours later, Greene signed his contract at the team's Los Angeles offices.
"We just hammered it out," Greene said.
Greene denied that his signing was triggered by New Orleans Saint linebacker Pat Swilling, a player of comparable value who signed last week for a reported $1.7 million over two years.
"We negotiated on Kevin Greene's worth," Greene said.
He will join the Rams at Monday's practice and play in next Sunday's season opener against the Green Bay Packers.
Greene joins a team--a defense in particular--that has been decimated by injuries. Cornerback Jerry Gray and linebacker Larry Kelm underwent knee surgery Saturday and will miss four to six weeks. Starting corner Darryl Henley is out indefinitely with a hip injury.
Reserve cornerback Alfred Jackson, who strained his groin in an end zone collision with Gray, is also out for an extended period. The team's entire inside linebacking corps--starters and backups--also is injured.