Rams, Lyght Close In on $5.6-Million Deal : NFL: Cornerback’s attorney and club vice president discuss five-year package.


In an unexpected turnabout, the Rams and the attorney for No. 1 draft pick Todd Lyght were on the verge Thursday evening of agreeing to a five-year deal worth about $5.6 million. Details could be completed by this morning.

After seven hours of discussions with Ram vice president Jay Zygmunt, attorney Bob Woolf emerged from his Beverly Hills office praising the pace of the talks and the Rams’ eagerness to get Lyght signed.

“We really got into it,” Woolf said. “We’re very, very close. I made concessions, they made concessions, and every time we hit a snag, we’d just keep working at it.


“I wouldn’t be surprised if we have an agreement in principle by (this) morning.”

Before talks began Thursday, the two sides were about $500,000-a-season apart and a sense of imminent confrontation was pervasive on both sides.

After the 11 a.m.-to-6 p.m. talks, the sides apparently narrowed the gap to about $25,000 a year and had scheduled talks for this morning.

The Rams and Woolf are believed to be zeroing in on an average salary of slightly more than $1.1 million for Lyght, including a signing bonus of about $2.5 million.

At $1.1 million a year, Lyght would be the Rams’ second-highest paid player, behind Jim Everett’s $2.5 million a season.

The Rams’ previous offer to Lyght had been a five-year, $4.5-million package--or an average of $900,000. Woolf had been seeking a deal worth more than $1.4 million a season.

Woolf had been annoyed by the Rams’ unwillingness to discuss serious numbers, but Thursday he was satisfied by Zygmunt’s explanation that it was useless to negotiate until Woolf completed his $1.31 million-a-season deal for linebacker Mike Croel with the Denver Broncos. Croel, who signed last week, was taken one pick ahead of Lyght.

“I thought it was so bizarre that we hadn’t spoken for so long,” Woolf said, “but Jay explained that it would’ve been useless to negotiate until I did the Croel deal.”

Lyght so far has missed 30 days of workouts, and the team broke training camp Thursday night. Today’s practice is at Rams Park.

If Lyght signs this weekend, he should be able to play in the team’s final exhibition game against the Houston Oilers Thursday in Memphis, and could see time as an extra cornerback on passing downs by the season opener.

Ram Coach John Robinson and defensive coordinator Jeff Fisher have pointed out that cornerback is one of the easier positions to learn, and that Lyght’s most important adjustments will be physical, not mental.

“It was a dramatic day,” Woolf said. “I told them I was here to get a deal, and that I’d stay until I got one.”