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Newberry to Rams: Make Deal or Trade Him

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Times Staff Writer

Guard Tom Newberry, speaking publicly for the first time since his holdout began on July 21, suggested Tuesday it might be in the Rams’ best interest to trade him if the two parties can’t work out a deal.

“I don’t know,” Newberry said from his home in Huntington Beach. “If they don’t want to move at all to my position, maybe the best thing is to get something for me. Obviously, I’m serious about what I’m doing. I wouldn’t be doing this if I wasn’t.”

Newberry confirmed that he has put his home up for sale, but said a decision for a trade is up to the Rams.

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“Right now, I still hope things work out,” he said. “But if it’s in their best interests for them to trade me, that’s fine.”

Newberry is in the third year of a four-year contract that pays $150,000 this season.

Newberry said the problem began when the Rams approached him in the off-season and offered to renegotiate his contract. Newberry, a second-round pick in 1986, is considered one of the top young lineman in the National Football League, yet is making $35,000 less this year than his backup, Mike Schad.

The Rams, he said, offered to increase his base salary by $50,000 this year and next, but demanded he extend his contract two years through 1991.

That irritated Newberry.

“I’ll tell you this,” he said. “If I went to the Rams and asked them to renegotiate I wouldn’t have missed a day of camp. But they told me they wanted to re-do the contract, that I was better than they ever thought I’d be.”

Newberry said the Rams have since removed the two-year extention demand on the deal and have offered to increase his salary only through incentives such as Pro Bowl appearances.

“The whole thing is now back to the point where they’re not adding to my salary,” Newberry said. “The way I look at it, I’ve already proven myself. Isn’t an (incentive) bonus something that you’re suppose to chase?”

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Ram management does not comment publicly about player negotiations.

Because he is under contract, Newberry is subject to a $1,000 daily fine under the terms of the league’s collective bargaining agreement. Newberry, though, says he doesn’t believe he has a contract.

“They were telling me that I wasn’t making enough,” he said. “So how can they pay me the old contract? I thought I’d have a new contract. This is different. I don’t consider myself under contract.”

Newberry has spent most of training camp back home in Wisconsin. He has been chopping wood to stay in shape and taking Spanish lessons to ease the boredom.

He said he’s ready to wait it out.

What’s next?

“Maybe some more Spanish lessons,” Newberry said.

Ram Notes

Defensive end Shawn Miller on Tuesday ended his 26-day holdout when he signed a two-year contract and reported to training camp at Cal State Fullerton.

Neither Miller or his agent, Peter Funsten, were particularly happy with the deal, which will pay Miller $225,000 this year and next. But Miller wasn’t ready to sit out any longer.

“I made the decision,” Miller said. “I’m disappointed with the fact that I thought maybe I was worth a little more than what I got. But I’m not going to let it bother now. I signed it, I agreed to it, and now it’s time to play ball.”

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Miller was holding out for higher base salaries, but instead settled for incentives that could be worth an additional $70,000 per season.

Miller was the Rams’ starting right end last season and had six sacks before a bad ankle forced him out of the last nine games. Miller returns and finds himself fighting for his job.

“He’s competing for a position as well as I can put it,” said defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur. Shurmur said Miller will be used at end, nose tackle and tackle in the team’s new Eagle defense. But because the team is using only two down linemen in many fronts, Shurmur said the team might keep just five linemen.

More on Miller: how much will he play this Saturday against the Houston Oilers? “As much as he can stand,” Shurmur said. . . . Miller, who lives in Ogden, Utah, drove 13 hours through the night to get to Tuesday’s practice on time, but missed it when he got stuck in traffic near Riverside. . . . Miller’s signing leaves only holdouts Tom Newberry and defensive end Doug Reed. Reed’s agent, Harry Vested, said Tuesday that Miller’s signing has no bearing on his client’s negotiations. Reed is looking for something in the $300,000-per-year range and would still sign a one-year contract just to get into camp. . . . The Rams have claimed punter Scott Tabor on waivers from the Raiders. . . . Tackle Mike Schad and defensive end Gary Jeter stopped practice momentarily when they exchanged punches after a play. Jeter got in two clean shots, a kick to the groin and a left straight-arm to Schad’s chin. Coach John Robinson threatened to throw the players off the field. . . . Jim Everett, Greg Bell, Ross Browner and Mike Lansford all missed practice because of the flu.

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