Sports Outside the Beltway

Isaac Bruce Stays Ram After All

Len Pasquarelli reports that, “Just five days after being released by the St. Louis Rams for salary cap reasons, four-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Isaac Bruce rejoined the only team for which he has every played.”

The new labor deal likely helped:

Bruce has agreed to a new, three-year deal worth $15 million, which the team announced Friday afternoon.
The contract will pay Bruce $6 million in 2006. Under his previous contract, he would have earned $8.1 million total from a roster bonus ($1.5 million), base salary ($6.5 million) and workout bonus ($100,000).

Although he received immediate interest from several teams after his release on Sunday night, and could have signed elsewhere because he did not have to wait until the start of the free agency period, Bruce’s aim was to return to the Rams, if possible, to complete his career. One of the team’s most interested in Bruce was the Detroit Lions, where former Rams head coach Mike Martz is the new offensive coordinator.

But Rams officials maintained a dialogue with Bruce and agent Jimmy Sexton, and the wide receiver met with team officials, including first-year coach Scott Linehan, on Thursday to discuss his future. Linehan reiterated to Bruce what he had said publicly, that he projected him as still fitting into the team’s plans, and wanted him to return if salary terms could be agreed upon. “I’m excited that we have worked out a deal,” Linehan said. “I’d been optimistic all along that we would be able to get this done.”

Negotiations with the Rams were aimed at meeting both sides’ priorities. Bruce never visited other teams and there were no substantive contract talks with other franchises. Bruce, 33, represents the final link to the Rams’ days in Los Angeles, having been the club’s second-round draft choice in 1994. He is one of the most popular players in the St. Louis community and highly regarded by club officials and teammates.

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