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Rams Trade Longtime QB Everett to Saints

March 19, 1994|MIKE REILLEY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — Quarterback Jim Everett, who brought the Rams to the brink of the Super Bowl in 1990 but was driven to the bench by boos and poor play last season, saw his career with the team end Friday.

The Rams, hoping to free money under the National Football League's new salary cap, traded Everett to Western Conference rival New Orleans for a seventh-round choice in the 1995 draft.

"There's no doubt that the change will do Jim Everett great," said Everett, who was replaced as the starter in the middle of last season by backup T.J. Rubley.

"I've been through the ups and downs in the NFL, and I know what it takes to win. I've been one game away from the Super Bowl, and I've been in the toilet bowl."

The Saints, the only team to show interest in the struggling quarterback, renegotiated a two-year contract in which Everett will take a pay cut.

In 1994, Everett will receive $1 million in base salary, a $500,000 signing bonus prorated over the two years and a $250,000 reporting bonus. The contract also includes $500,000 in incentive bonuses. The second year would have a base of $2 million with an additional $500,000 if the team exercises an option on the contract and another $500,000 in incentives.

Everett was to have earned $2 million in base salary and $650,000 in bonus money in 1994 with the Rams.

The Saints also gave Everett a vote of confidence as their starter by cutting starter Wade Wilson, who led the team to a 5-0 start last season but struggled to an 8-8 finish.

The trade marks the end of Everett's sometimes rewarding but often frustrating career in Anaheim.

He was billed as the team's quarterback of the future in 1986, when the Rams gave up two players and three draft picks for him in a trade with Houston. He became the Rams' all-time leading passer, surpassing records set by Roman Gabriel, but he was 46-60 as the team's starter, with the team winning just 17 games while losing 40 in the past four seasons.

And when the Rams signed free agent Chris Miller to a three-year, $9-million contract March 7, they had one high-priced quarterback too many.

"Jim Everett is an excellent quarterback," Rams Coach Chuck Knox said in prepared statement. "We wish him well."

Everett said the low point of his career came last season, when the Rams were 3-6 with him starting. Knox replaced Everett with Rubley for seven of the final nine games. The team considered cutting Everett in November to save money, but instead cut Mike Pagel, another backup quarterback.

"I've had some ups and downs in my career," Everett said. "When I was benched for T.J., and the reasons might not be as obvious as they seem, it was the most discouraging point of my career. It wasn't that I was hurt (physically), the coach wanted to go in a new direction."

The Rams have been shopping Everett, 6 feet 5 and 212 pounds, since the trading period opened Feb. 17, but they found little interest until the Saints began discussions earlier this week.

The Rams were seeking a second- or third-round draft pick for Everett, who finished last season ranked 29th out of 30 NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. But at a staff meeting Thursday, they decided to no longer demand a high draft pick and to unload Everett and his salary.

They were eager to do so because team officials have been uncharacteristically aggressive in the free-agent market, signing Miller, defensive tackle Jimmie Jones and extending an offer sheet to Houston offensive lineman Kevin Donnalley.

The signings mean the Rams will face problems with the league's new $33.8-million salary cap, because they are also trying to re-sign some of their 17 free agents and are pursuing a free-agent wide receiver. A team official said the Rams still will be held accountable for part of what they would have paid Everett under the cap; they are negotiating with the NFL to determine how much.

Everett had two years left on his contract. In 1993, he was designated as the team's transition player for the 1996 season, after his contract was to expire. That meant the Rams would maintain the right of first refusal and be able to match any offer Everett received from another team.

With the trade, the Rams will now be able to use the transition designation for another young star.

Everett flew to New Orleans on Thursday night and was introduced to the local media Friday by Saints Coach Jim Mora, who described him as "one of the best quarterbacks in the league."

Everett had one of his best games as a pro against the Saints in 1989, completing 29 of 51 passes for 454 yards in a 20-17 overtime victory at New Orleans.

"We are extremely pleased and happy to have him as a part of team," Mora said. "We have seen some exhibitions where he has blistered us, and now we hope he can blister some other teams for the Saints.

"He has the size, escapability in the pocket and a great arm. He can throw all the patterns. He has the toughness and experience, all the things you are looking for in a quarterback."

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