Rams Trade Longtime QB Everett to Saints
Quarterback Jim Everett, who brought the Rams to the brink of the Super Bowl in 1990 but was driven to the bench by boos and poor play last season, saw his career with the team end Friday.
The Rams, hoping to free money under the National Football League’s new salary cap, traded Everett to Western Conference rival New Orleans for a seventh-round choice in the 1995 draft.
“There’s no doubt that the change will do Jim Everett great,” said Everett, who was replaced as the starter in the middle of last season by backup T.J. Rubley.
“I’ve been through the ups and downs in the NFL, and I know what it takes to win. I’ve been one game away from the Super Bowl, and I’ve been in the toilet bowl.”
The Saints, the only team to show interest in the struggling quarterback, renegotiated a two-year contract in which Everett will take a pay cut.
In 1994, Everett will receive $1 million in base salary, a $500,000 signing bonus prorated over the two years and a $250,000 reporting bonus. The contract also includes $500,000 in incentive bonuses. The second year would have a base of $2 million with an additional $500,000 if the team exercises an option on the contract and another $500,000 in incentives.
Everett was to have earned $2 million in base salary and $650,000 in bonus money in 1994 with the Rams.
The Saints also gave Everett a vote of confidence as their starter by cutting starter Wade Wilson, who led the team to a 5-0 start last season but struggled to an 8-8 finish.
The trade marks the end of Everett’s sometimes rewarding but often frustrating career in Anaheim.
He was billed as the team’s quarterback of the future in 1986, when the Rams gave up two players and three draft picks for him in a trade with Houston. He became the Rams’ all-time leading passer, surpassing records set by Roman Gabriel, but he was 46-60 as the team’s starter, with the team winning just 17 games while losing 40 in the past four seasons.
And when the Rams signed free agent Chris Miller to a three-year, $9-million contract March 7, they had one high-priced quarterback too many.
“Jim Everett is an excellent quarterback,” Rams Coach Chuck Knox said in prepared statement. “We wish him well.”
Everett said the low point of his career came last season, when the Rams were 3-6 with him starting. Knox replaced Everett with Rubley for seven of the final nine games. The team considered cutting Everett in November to save money, but instead cut Mike Pagel, another backup quarterback.
“I’ve had some ups and downs in my career,” Everett said. “When I was benched for T.J., and the reasons might not be as obvious as they seem, it was the most discouraging point of my career. It wasn’t that I was hurt (physically), the coach wanted to go in a new direction.”
The Rams have been shopping Everett, 6 feet 5 and 212 pounds, since the trading period opened Feb. 17, but they found little interest until the Saints began discussions earlier this week.
The Rams were seeking a second- or third-round draft pick for Everett, who finished last season ranked 29th out of 30 NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. But at a staff meeting Thursday, they decided to no longer demand a high draft pick and to unload Everett and his salary.
They were eager to do so because team officials have been uncharacteristically aggressive in the free-agent market, signing Miller, defensive tackle Jimmie Jones and extending an offer sheet to Houston offensive lineman Kevin Donnalley.
The signings mean the Rams will face problems with the league’s new $33.8-million salary cap, because they are also trying to re-sign some of their 17 free agents and are pursuing a free-agent wide receiver. A team official said the Rams still will be held accountable for part of what they would have paid Everett under the cap; they are negotiating with the NFL to determine how much.
Everett had two years left on his contract. In 1993, he was designated as the team’s transition player for the 1996 season, after his contract was to expire. That meant the Rams would maintain the right of first refusal and be able to match any offer Everett received from another team.
With the trade, the Rams will now be able to use the transition designation for another young star.
Everett flew to New Orleans on Thursday night and was introduced to the local media Friday by Saints Coach Jim Mora, who described him as “one of the best quarterbacks in the league.”
Everett had one of his best games as a pro against the Saints in 1989, completing 29 of 51 passes for 454 yards in a 20-17 overtime victory at New Orleans.
“We are extremely pleased and happy to have him as a part of team,” Mora said. “We have seen some exhibitions where he has blistered us, and now we hope he can blister some other teams for the Saints.
“He has the size, escapability in the pocket and a great arm. He can throw all the patterns. He has the toughness and experience, all the things you are looking for in a quarterback.”
But Everett’s toughness has been questioned during his tenure with the Rams:
* There was the infamous “phantom sack,” which occurred during a 30-3 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the 1990 NFC Championship game. Everett was widely criticized after he dropped back to pass and fell to the ground without being touched.
* And last season, reports from New York quoted Rams players referring to Everett as “Chris Evert"--a reference to the women’s tennis player--for his lack of the courage to take hits.
“That was the low point of my career,” he said. “I don’t think I was able to play to the best of my ability. I didn’t have the confidence in myself, and I didn’t feel the people around me had the confidence in me to play.”
To acquire Everett, the Rams traded defensive end William Fuller, guard Kent Hill, first-round draft choices in 1987 and ’88, and a fifth-round 1987 choice to the Houston Oilers. Houston had made Everett the third overall selection in the 1986 draft behind running back Bo Jackson (Tampa Bay) and nose tackle Tony Casillas (Atlanta).
Everett made his rookie debut by coming off the bench to complete 12 of 19 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-28 loss to New England. He became the team’s full-time starter in his first season, and passed for 1,018 yards with eight touchdowns and eight interceptions.
His productivity grew the next three seasons as he developed into one of the league’s top quarterbacks. He completed 59.6% of his passes in 1988 for 3,964 yards with 31 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.
In 1989, he became the first Ram to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season (4,310), and led the Rams to a 13-6 record and the conference championship game.
The following season, he threw for 3,989 yards and became the Rams’ first Pro Bowl quarterback since Pat Haden in 1977. But the team finished 5-11, the first of four consecutive seasons with fewer than seven victories.
Knox replaced John Robinson as the Rams’ coach after a 3-13 season in 1991, bringing his rushing-oriented “Ground Chuck” offense with him.
But Everett played well in his first season under Knox, completing 281 of 475 passes (59.2%) for 3,323 yards with 22 touchdowns and 18 interceptions. The Rams finished 6-10.
Despite the losing seasons, Everett started 87 consecutive games, a streak that ended Oct. 31 at San Francisco. He had been benched the previous week after completing only one of nine pass attempts for 12 yards with one interception in a 16-13 loss to Detroit.
After Rubley failed to impress in a 40-17 loss to the 49ers, Everett started against Atlanta and Washington before again being replaced by Rubley in the second half against the Redskins.
He played in his final game as a Ram on Dec. 5 at Phoenix, replacing Rubley in the second half and completing six of 13 passes for 68 yards and a touchdown in a 38-10 loss.
“In Los Angeles, I felt I had six of my best years I’ve ever had,” Everett said. “There were 10 games in the 1993 season where I didn’t play to best of my ability. I wasn’t happy last year, and the Rams weren’t happy.”
Everett said he thinks he can regain his confidence in New Orleans, which finished 21st in the league in passing offense (183.8 yards a game) last season.
The Saints recently signed free agent Michael Haynes of Atlanta, one of the league’s best receivers, and they feature a promising young running back in Derek Brown, a former Anaheim Servite High standout.
“Jim is at the prime of his career, and he has been healthy for eight years,” Mora said. “He had great success and won playoff games. The only thing he hasn’t done is been to a Super Bowl, and we hope he can help us accomplish that.”
When asked what he thought of the Rams trading him to a team in the same division, Everett said: “I don’t know about the decisions the Rams make. I will never bad-mouth the team that I enjoyed playing for for eight years.”
Did he want out of Anaheim after this season?
“Absolutely,” he said. “I wish I would have said it publicly sooner.”
Times staff writer T.J. Simers contributed to this report.
* A DEAL UNDONE: Anaheim, team still discussing practice facility contract. A30
Everett Era Ends
Jim Everett, Rams quarterback since 1986, was traded to the New Orleans Saints on Friday after the team suffered four consecutive losing seasons. The longest-serving quarterback since the Rams moved to Anaheim in 1980, he started 87 consecutive games. He also:
* Completed more touchdown passes than any other Ram except Roman Gabriel
* Completed more passes than any other Ram, 1,847
* Holds Rams career yards passing record, 23,758
* Threw for more than 3,000 yards in five consecutive seasons
* Is second only to Vince Ferragamo in percentage of passes completed as a Ram
Quote: “I feel like I’m 22 again. This is a new start for me, a fresh beginning."--Jim Everett
Everett’s Highs and Lows
* Nov. 16, 1986: Begins Ram career by coming off bench to complete 12 of 19 passes for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
* Sept. 25, 1988: Ties Ram record for touchdowns in a game with five against New York Giants.
* Nov. 12, 1989: Establishes Ram record with 18 consecutive completions during a 31-10 victory over Giants.
* Nov. 26, 1989: Passes for 343 yards in the second half and overtime, including a touchdown with 1:02 to play in regulation, during a 20-17 victory at New Orleans.
* Dec. 12, 1989: Becomes first Ram quarterback, and only the 11th in NFL history, to pass for 4,000 yards (4,310) in a season.
* Jan. 7, 1990: Fires a 30-yard strike to Flipper Anderson for an overtime touchdown against Giants that sends Rams to NFC Championship game.
* Dec. 31, 1990: Finishes season with 3,989 passing yards and 23 touchdowns, becoming first Ram quarterback since Pat Haden to be named to the Pro Bowl.
* Dec. 6, 1992: Completes 25 of 38 passes for 342 yards and three touchdowns in leading Rams to biggest come-from-behind victory in franchise history (24 points)--a 51-27 victory at Tampa Bay.
* Nov. 11, 1986: Completes just seven of 10 passes for 56 yards and throws two interceptions.
* Dec. 21, 1987: Suffers a bone chip in his right ankle when sacked by Dallas Cowboy Jim Jeffcoat; misses final regular-season game.
* Dec. 26, 1988: Throws three interceptions and completes only 19 of 45 passes in 28-17 playoff loss to Minnesota Vikings.
* Jan. 14, 1990: Suffers the infamous “phantom sack” and throws three interceptions while completing just 16 of 36 passes in a 30-3 loss to San Francisco 49ers in NFC Championship game.
* Sept. 15, 1991: Completes only six passes for 71 yards and is sacked five times during 24-7 loss at New Orleans.
* Dec. 20, 1992: Fails to complete a pass of more than 18 yards and throws three interceptions in 44-24 defeat at Green Bay.
* Oct. 3, 1993: Pulled from the game in favor of Mike Pagel after completing 10 of 25 passes for 126 yards against New Orleans.
* Oct. 31, 1993: Streak of 87 consecutive starts is snapped when T.J. Rubley is named to open against 49ers.
Researched by JOHN WEYLER / Los Angeles Times
Everett’s Career Statistics
Passing Yards Completion Longest Year Games attempts Complete gained pct. TD Int. gain 1986 6 147 73 1,018 49.6 8 8 60 1987 11 302 162 2,064 53.6 10 13 81 1988 16 517 308 3,964 59.6 31 18 69 1989 16 518 304 4,310 58.7 29 17 78 1990 16 554 307 3,989 55.4 23 17 55 1991 16 490 277 3,438 56.5 11 20 78 1992 16 475 281 3,323 59.2 22 18 67 1993 9 274 135 1,652 49.3 8 12 60 Total 106 3,277 1,847 23,758 56.4 142 123 81