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PRO FOOTBALL / DAILY REPORT : RAMS : Gary Told to Sign or Skip Opener

August 10, 1993|T.J. SIMERS

The Rams, after informing Cleveland Gary that he must sign by Friday or sit out the season opener on Sept. 5, said they will make a new contract offer this week to the running back in an effort to reopen negotiations.

"We're going to start looking at what we can do with a contract that runs longer than one year," said Jay Zygmunt, Ram senior vice president.

The Rams offered Gary, who earned $350,000 a year ago, $385,000 to play this season. Gary said that a trade might satisfy both parties.

When the Rams sent Gary a "sign-or-else" letter Monday, however, they in effect made it difficult to work out a trade. The new collective bargaining agreement indicates that a player must sit out a regular-season game for each exhibition he sat out, beginning with the second week of exhibition play, once they have been given five days' notice in the mail.

If Gary does not come to terms before Friday, and later signs and is traded, he would still have to sit out at least the first game of the season.

"Our first priority is to get a contract done," Zygmunt said.

The Rams remain unwilling to increase their offer on a one-year contract, but their readiness to discuss a longer-term pact might provide Gary with an opportunity to beat Friday's deadline. The Rams also would still have the chance to trade him without a one-week penalty complicating matters.

"It would have been nice if the Rams had offered a two-year deal to Cleveland that was fairly lucrative to offset the loss of a year of free agency," said Jordan Woy, Gary's agent. "A one-year deal, while maybe not representing Cleveland's true value, might have also been nice, if it had been something respectable.

"They've got the right and the ability to do it their way, but I'm afraid it's left a bad taste in Cleveland's mouth."

*

The Rams were surprised when tight end Jim Price failed to appear at Cal State Fullerton to sign a one-year contract.

"It's very disappointing to me," Zygmunt said.

The Rams increased their offer to Price last week, and Price indicated Saturday night that he might show up for work Monday.

When he failed to do so, the Rams decided to notify Price that, like Gary, he has until Friday to sign or sit out the season opener.

"He's not going in," said Scott Casterline, Price's agent. "He just doesn't feel comfortable with what's on the table."

The Rams offered Price $210,000 before the opening of camp, reduced that offer to $150,000 when he failed to accept it, and recently improved it to $175,000. Price earned $150,000 last season.

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