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Jeffires May Slip Away From Rams

March 17, 1994|MIKE REILLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Rams' courtship of free-agent wide receiver Haywood Jeffires suffered a serious blow Wednesday when the Raiders retained wide receiver Tim Brown by matching his offer sheet from the Denver Broncos.

Jeffires, a three-time Pro Bowl selection with Houston, visited Rams Park on Tuesday and had narrowed his choices to four teams--the Rams, Denver, Houston and Washington.

Denver was Jeffires' top choice, but the Broncos extended a four-year, $11 million offer sheet to Brown last week.

If the Raiders had not matched the offer, Denver would have retained Brown and eliminated Jeffires from consideration.

Jeffires earned $900,000 last season with the Oilers, and is seeking a contract that would pay him nearly $2 million annually.

The money could be a stumbling block for Denver. The Broncos also have been interested in free-agent wide receivers Henry Ellard of the Rams, the Jets' Rob Moore and San Diego's Anthony Miller.

"Haywood would really like to be here," Denver Coach Wade Phillips told the Rocky Mountain News Wednesday. "But whether he would like to be here for our money is a big factor.

"He's feeling like he's the top receiver in the league. He indicated that when we went after Brown, it was good for him because it put the money up there for him."

The Rams aren't expected to make an offer to Jeffires until at least Wednesday, the deadline for Houston to match the Rams' four-year, $4.1-million offer sheet to offensive lineman Kevin Donnalley.

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