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Rams welcome former lineman

Thursday, March 31, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:05 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

ST. LOUIS — Defensive end Jay Williams, an 11-year player who broke in with the then-Los Angeles Rams in 1994, is returning to the franchise.

The Rams announced Wednesday they have signed Williams, 33, to a three-year, $2.65 million contract. The deal includes a $300,000 signing bonus.

Calls seeking comment from the Rams were not returned.

Williams, who is 6 feet, 3 inches tall and weighs 270 pounds, spent six seasons with the Rams, then two with the Carolina Panthers and three with the Miami Dolphins. In 137 career games, including 31 starts, he has 255 tackles, 23 1/2 sacks, four forced fumbles and two interceptions.

His best season was last season, when he had 57 tackles, 32 solo, with two sacks, one interception and two forced fumbles. Williams played in 16 games, though he started just one. He was released by the Dolphins in February.

The signing is expected to add depth at defensive end, a position in some turmoil. Last season’s sack leader, Bryce Fisher, left St. Louis, signing a four-year contract with Seattle. And Leonard Little, who made the Pro Bowl in 2003, is on trial this week for a 2004 drunken-driving arrest.

Little is being tried as a second-time offender, having been involved in a drunken-driving wreck in 1998 that killed a St. Louis County woman. If convicted, he could face jail time and a suspension from the NFL.

The Rams plan to use second-year player Anthony Hargrove as a starter, and the signing of Williams provides some insurance if Little is unavailable.

Reports said Williams also had an offer from Kansas City. Chiefs coach Dick Vermeil was Williams’ coach for three seasons in St. Louis. Atlanta and Seattle also expressed interest.

Williams originally was signed as an undrafted free agent out of Wake Forest.


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