Quarterback Tommy Maddox became a Ram Saturday, and although he is third string behind Chris Miller and Chris Chandler, he indicated that he doesn't want to be holding a clipboard on the sideline for long.
The Rams traded a 1995 fourth-round draft choice to the Denver Broncos Saturday to acquire Maddox, the former UCLA standout whom Denver took in the first round of the 1992 draft as the heir-apparent to John Elway.
Because of the NFL's new $34.6-million salary cap, the Broncos couldn't justify spending $875,000 on a backup quarterback. But Maddox views himself as a potential starter.
"I'm ready," he said. "This is my third year in the league and I've been around. I'm excited about the way I played in the preseason this year.
"I'm to the point now where everything I can improve on is on the field. I don't think I can stand on the sideline and learn anything else."
The Rams will assume the final two years of Maddox's four-year, $4.4-million contract with the Broncos. He will earn $875,000 this season, including a $25,000 roster bonus, and will make $1.05 million next season. The Broncos are responsible for the remaining $700,000 of his $1.4 million signing bonus this season.
Leigh Steinberg, Maddox's agent, said he is "open to restructuring" Maddox's contract, but has yet to discuss it with Ram officials.
"We'll talk about it," said Jay Zygmunt, Ram senior vice president. "The first thing we wanted to do was get him in here."
Ram Coach Chuck Knox said trading the fourth-round pick, obtained in a trade with Dallas during this year's draft, was a small price to pay for a potential star quarterback.
Maddox, 6 feet 4 and 205 pounds, gives the Rams the young, talented quarterback they bypassed last April when they didn't take Fresno State's Trent Dilfer with the fifth-overall pick. Maddox will be 23 Thursday.
"I think the value (of Maddox) is too great to pass up," Knox said. "We've been criticized for not taking a young quarterback in the draft. Now we take a young quarterback and people want to know is it going to be this, or is it going to be that.
"Tommy will start out as our No. 3 guy. But he represents an opportunity as our quarterback of the future."
Chandler remains the backup, and Maddox takes over the third-string position from Jamie Martin, who was cut Saturday to make room for Maddox on the roster. T.J. Rubley, who started seven games last season, is out for the year after the team put him on the injured reserve list Tuesday because of tendinitis in his right throwing elbow.
Maddox, who entered the NFL draft after his sophomore year at UCLA, started four games his rookie year when Elway was sidelined because of a bruised tendon in his shoulder. In two seasons, Maddox completed 67 of 122 passes (54.9%) for 758 yards with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.
The Rams wanted Maddox for his youth, athleticism and anticipated value next season with expansion teams in Charlotte and Jacksonville seeking quarterbacks. But Maddox sees his long-term future in Anaheim--or wherever the team plays next season.
"I'm looking at being there for a long time," he said. "You can't go into any situation thinking I'll just be here for a while, then move on."