PALM DESERT — Defensive end Fred Stokes, presented with the opportunity to make more than $2 million this year, has agreed to leave Washington and sign today with the Rams.
Agent Jack Reale said he and Stokes, a former Ram, will fly from Atlanta to Palm Desert this morning to meet with Jay Zygmunt, Ram senior vice president, and Coach Chuck Knox to sign a three-year contract.
"We have a deal," Reale said.
Sources in Washington said the Rams will pay Stokes almost $4 million for three years, including a signing bonus of $1.5 million, and base salaries of $700,000, $750,000 and $800,000.
"That's pretty accurate," Reale said.
Stokes made $355,000 last season.
Knox, speaking through a Ram spokesman, said he had not been told anything about Stokes and that all comments should come from Zygmunt.
Zygmunt said, "No, I'm not making any comments about negotiations. Thanks for calling."
The Rams made a big push for Stokes after failing to land San Francisco linebacker Bill Romanowski and Buffalo linebacker Carlton Bailey.
"The Rams went after what they wanted and they have made a hell of a commitment," Reale said. "Fred didn't come cheap."
Reale said he countered the Rams' initial offer with a proposal designed to pay Stokes much of his money in 1993.
"The Rams didn't blink," Reale said. "They wanted to get this guy."
The Redskins made a pitch to re-sign Stokes, and while their total offer was similar to the Rams', they refused to make so much money available to Stokes up front.
Washington also came to terms Thursday with defensive lineman Tim Johnson, which eased their concerns about losing Stokes.
Stokes, who failed to make an impact with the Rams in 1987 and 1988, left as a Plan B free agent to sign with the Redskins. He seriously considered accepting a contract offer from the Seattle Seahawks at the time, who were being coached by Knox.
In Washington Stokes, nicknamed "Big Play," piled up 24 1/2 sacks in the past 53 games, recovered 10 fumbles and forced eight. In his last five playoff appearances he recorded seven sacks.
"Fred will be a great addition to the Rams," Reale said. "I think Washington felt it just had too many good players, and maybe they wanted to use their money to keep going after Reggie White. Whatever the reason, Fred's thrilled for the chance to play with the Rams."