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Rams Take a Pass on Mitchell--For Now : Pro football: Free-agent quarterback leaves Anaheim without an offer. Vikings have bid $9.5 million for three years.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Scott Mitchell made the visit Tuesday, but the Rams didn’t make the contract offer.

At least for now.

A day after the Minnesota Vikings offered him a three-year contract worth $9.5 million, Mitchell, a free-agent quarterback from the Miami Dolphins, came up empty-handed in Anaheim.

Ram Senior Vice President Jay Zygmunt met with Tony Agnone, Mitchell’s agent, Monday night and part of Tuesday, but the team held off on an offer.

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“The biggest thing is the timing,” Zygmunt said. “We (he and Agnone) will talk later in the week. We’re very interested in them, and they’re very interested in us.”

Mitchell, the Rams’ top free-agent prospect, met with team officials and toured the Anaheim practice facility Tuesday. He said he plans to wait until making all his visits before signing with one of his four finalists: Detroit, Minnesota, New Orleans and the Rams.

He visited Detroit and Minnesota last week, canceled a visit to Washington and will be in New Orleans today.

Mitchell said he will make a decision “as soon as possible.”

Minnesota’s offer is a huge boost from Mitchell’s salary last season with the Dolphins--$369,000 with another $150,000 in incentive bonuses.

“The money is all just a byproduct of how you perform on the field,” Mitchell said. “As a quarterback, it’s important to have good people around you. You can be the greatest physical specimen that ever walked the face of the earth, and if you don’t have good people around you, you’re not going to be successful.

“If it gets right down to it, if someone offers me the most money, I’m not going to say that’s where I’m going unless it fits everything else I want. Money is not going to be the determining factor.”

Which is why not all of Mitchell’s inquiries with the Rams involved dollar signs. He also was curious about the team’s future, commitment to winning and its possible move to another city.

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He asked those questions as he toured the practice facility with assistant head coach Joe Vitt and new offensive coordinator Chick Harris, met with linebacker Roman Phifer and had lunch with Coach Chuck Knox.

“You hear all the time about Ground Chuck, and they have (tailback) Jerome Bettis here,” Mitchell said. “Are they going to run the ball all the time? What is their commitment to a quarterback?

“I wanted to know what they’re going to do to turn it around. They haven’t won a lot of games in the last couple of years. I just want to know what they think they need to do to get to the playoffs and win.”

With quarterback Jim Everett on the trading block, the Rams courted Mitchell and have made a pitch for Houston’s Warren Moon, but the Oilers don’t seem ready to trade him.

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Atlanta quarterback Chris Miller, an unrestricted free agent, will visit on Thursday, and unrestricted free agents Bubby Brister of Philadelphia and Chris Chandler of Phoenix are scheduled to visit next week, Zygmunt said.

The Rams are attracted to Mitchell because of his age (26) and size (6 feet 6 and 230 pounds). If they sign Mitchell, a left-hander, the Rams probably will have to bring in a right tackle to protect his blindside.

Mitchell was 3-4 as a starter last season in place of an injured Dan Marino. And he missed a month after suffering a separated left shoulder when he was hit by Philadelphia’s Seth Joyner. But Mitchell returned and played well in the final two games of the season, both Miami losses.

In his pro career, Mitchell has completed 135 of 241 passes for 1,805 yards with 12 touchdowns and nine interceptions.

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Mitchell said he became frustrated in Miami as a backup to Marino and holder for kicks the past four seasons. In 1992, he led the Orlando Thunder to an 8-2 record and the World League finals.

But Mitchell got his break in the NFL’s new era of free agency, which allows him to be courted by several teams.

“It has been a blessing to some degree and it’s also been frustrating,” he said. “The way the system used to be, I would be a guy like Jeff Hostetler, spend several years in New York, and be stuck there. Some guys might say, ‘That’s not so bad, being a backup.’ But that’s never been my style or approach. I’ve always wanted to make the most of it and take it as far as I could.”

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Wayne Sevier, the Rams’ top candidate for the special teams coaching vacancy, was one of four Washington Redskin assistant coaches dismissed Tuesday by new Coach Norv Turner.

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Dallas defensive tackle Jimmie Jones arrived Tuesday night and will visit Rams Park today. Giant offensive tackle Doug Riesenberg, 6-5 and 275 pounds, will visit on Thursday along with Miller.

Ram wide receiver Henry Ellard, an unrestricted free agent, visited Denver on Tuesday. Tight end Pat Carter, also an unrestricted free agent, is planning to visit the Houston Oilers later this week.

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