Bell Still Unhappy After Deal With Rams : Running Back Signs 2-Year Contract; Offensive Lineman Cox Also Signs

Times Staff Writer

Greg Bell signed a two-year contract with the Rams Monday, a deal his agent said left Bell "satisfied," though the running back appeared anything but gleeful.

Bell, the Rams' leading rusher last season, signed to receive a base salary of about $500,000 a year plus incentives. Reserve tackle Robert Cox also signed Monday and will get about $185,000 this year and $200,000 the next.

Bell, who rushed for 1,212 yards last season, drove into camp late Monday afternoon, signed, walked over to the Ram locker room, talked with teammates, then walked to his car, trailed by reporters. After a terse exchange, he left.

"Greg made the decision to dedicate himself to football and leave all the other things aside," said Steve Feldman, who represents Bell and Cox. "I think he just wants to put on his uniform, show up, play and go home and not get involved in any controversies, either pro or con as it relates to the Los Angeles Rams."

Which seems to roughly translate to yet another brutal negotiating session for a Ram player with the front office.

"The Rams are a tough bunch. The negotiations were extremely difficult, I can't tell you we got everything we wanted," Feldman said. "Obviously we got enough of it or we wouldn't have come in. If he (Bell) wasn't satisfied, he wouldn't be here."

Now that he is, Ram Coach John Robinson expects him to be ready to play in Saturday's exhibition finale against Detroit.

Asked if one exhibition game and a couple weeks of practice can prepare Bell for the season opener against Atlanta, Robinson said: "I don't think he can carry 30 times, but I think he can have a major contribution in the Atlanta game."

Robinson said that Bell returns to the team as the starter, but made no promises.

"Like anything else, we're going to play the best guy," he said. "If Greg comes back and he's the third best guy, then he won't play. I'm not real interested in pecking orders, when Greg is Greg Bell, he's the best tailback we've got right now."

Cox, the Rams' third-best tackle, had reportedly agreed to terms on a two-year deal over the weekend, then apparently un-agreed Monday.

Cox did not show for practice.

"I've always believed what I read in the paper," Robinson said before practice. "So I thought that Cox was going to be here. I don't know what the problem is. Buyer's remorse or something."

When Cox did sign, about an hour after Bell, he too seemed less than thrilled.

"That's the end, it's done, no comment, it's a done deal, can't give you any specifics but we worked out the details, see you Wednesday morning," Cox said.

Feldman said that the Cox and the Rams had never really reached an agreement over the weekend because of "some snags."

Ram notes

The Rams will pare down their roster to 60 players today, but don't expect anything earth-shattering. "I don't think there's anyone who's getting cut who could really make the team," Coach John Robinson said. NFL teams have to get down to their final complement of 47 players by Sept. 4. . . . Robinson allowed tight end Pat Carter to miss Monday's practice so he could retrieve his clothes from Detroit. Carter was acquired two weeks ago in a trade with the Detroit Lions. . . . Third-year linebacker Wayne Davis was released to allow him time to hook up with another team. "We wanted to give Wayne an extra day to find a job," Robinson said. "We gave guys who were close to making the team who might have the chance to make a team somewhere else, the option of being cut early."

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