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Rams Sign Conwell to 3-Year Deal

February 11, 2000

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The St. Louis Rams took a step Friday toward keeping their Super Bowl-winning team intact, signing tight end Ernie Conwell to a three-year contract..

On the eve of free agency, Conwell agreed to a three-year, $3.9 million dollar deal that includes a $1.25 million signing bonus.

Conwell missed most of last season following reconstructive surgery on his knee, but did catch a pass in the 23-16 win over Tennessee in the Super Bowl.

Conwell played in just seven percent of the team’s offensive plays in 1999. But by the Super Bowl, he said the injured knee was all the way back from the November 1998 surgery.

The signing is part of a strategy by the Rams to keep as intact as possible the team that went from 4-12 to a Super Bowl victory.

After a 4-12 season in 1998, the Rams rebuilt their offense last off-season through trades (running back Marshall Faulk), draft picks (receiver Torry Holt) and free agent signings (quarterback Trent Green, guard Adam Timmerman).

``Free agency for us is going to start in our own back yard,″ general manager Charley Armey said. ``It won’t be anything like last year at all. We’ll try to get our people signed, and then move on, and try to draft well.″

The Rams have only three starters scheduled for unrestricted free agency: cornerback Todd Lyght, offensive tackle Fred Miller and center Mike Gruttadauria. Two top-flight backups are free agents: defensive end Jay Williams and offensive lineman Andy McCollum.

They recently made Lyght a transition playerm giving them the right to match any outside contract offers.

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