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Rams Make a Deal With Jimmie Jones : Pro football: Former Cowboy tackle signs for $7.7 million. Quarterback is next priority, with Miller heading list.


The Rams signed former Dallas Cowboy defensive tackle Jimmie Jones on Thursday night to a four-year contract for $7.7 million. Next in view: Atlanta quarterback Chris Miller, or possibly Green Bay's Brett Favre.

The Rams pursued Jones, who earned $385,000 in 1993, after hearing rumors that defensive end Robert Young might receive an offer sheet from the Pittsburgh Steelers. Jones, who will receive a $2-million signing bonus, spent Thursday in Chicago visiting with the Bears, but left in a hurry to travel to Anaheim after fielding the Rams' contract offer.

"He has signed and has already left L.A.," said agent Drew Rosenhaus. "He's the first Cowboy to leave. It's nice to win, but it's more important to pay the bills."

"This is a great start," Coach Chuck Knox said of the 6-foot-4, 276-pound Jones, who scored a touchdown and made a couple of big plays in last year's Super Bowl victory over Buffalo. "This is a guy that we identified from the beginning who could help us."

Jones started only two games last season and had 5 1/2 sacks.

Miller, meanwhile, worked out for the Rams Thursday, and team physicians said his twice-injured knee is well on the mend and presents no significant risk.

The Rams, who soured on Miami's Scott Mitchell after an early-week visit, were so impressed with Miller that they had Jay Zygmunt, senior vice president, fly to Stockton Thursday night to open negotiations with his agent.

In the last few days, the Rams talked about extending a $20-million, five-year offer sheet to Favre, who is a restricted free agent. His agent, Bus Cook, said Favre will be in Anaheim next week for a workout.

"I suspect very, very strongly that we will get an offer from the Rams," Cook told the Green Bay Press-Gazette.

The Rams talked with Cook recently, but were left with the impression that Favre was not interested in talking about a move.

There is also disagreement among Ram coaches about Favre's overall effectiveness, and the team appeared to back away from Favre late Thursday.

If the Rams extended an offer sheet to Favre and Green Bay chose not to match it, the Rams would have to surrender a first- and third-round pick in this year's draft.

They will have to give up nothing to sign Miller, and will have to offer him about $2.5 million to play here in contrast to the $4 million a year it would take to land Favre.

"We have not written an offer sheet on any restricted player," said John Shaw, Ram executive vice president. "We're exploring the situation with a quarterback that would cost us a first- and third-round pick. But we're just talking."

The Rams hope to wait a few days and look at Phoenix's Chris Chandler and Philadelphia's Bubby Brister next week before committing to Miller. There is still interest in Indianapolis quarterback Jeff George and Houston's Warren Moon, but the Rams are concerned that both might not become available via trade until the NFL draft late in April.

Miller, who was considered one of the game's best young quarterbacks before injuring a knee against the Rams in 1992, underwent a second knee operation a little less than five months ago.

"I'd love to play for the Rams; I grew up a Rams fan," Miller said. "I was born in Pomona and lived in Claremont. My dad took me to see Roman Gabriel play when the Rams were just the blue and white. It would be a thrill to play for them."

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