During the 2002 season, the Rams offered starting center Andy McCollum a two-year contract worth $2.6 million with a $1.2 million signing bonus to stay with the team.
McCollum never signed that deal, and it ended up costing him nearly $700,000. As free agency opened, the Rams moved quickly to sign center Dave Wohlabaugh, who had been released by the Browns. But the Rams still wanted McCollum back, to play left guard. He visited the Giants and New England, but re-signed last week with the Rams for $150,000 less than the Patriots offered because there was no guarantee he would be a starter there.
The three-year contract he signed is worth $2.905 million and includes a $550,000 signing bonus.
"It's been a mess," said McCollum, who changed agents within the last two weeks. "It's been kind of ugly. Part of it's my fault. But I really don't want to get into who did what. I'm just glad we were able to get something straightened out."
Said coach Mike Martz, "Andy's our starting left guard now. He's very important to this team in a lot of aspects. I'm just happy that this thing could be resolved."
The Rams have been aggressive in the offseason upgrading their offensive line. They first placed a franchise tag on left tackle Orlando Pace, then signed Wohlabaugh.
The biggest impact was the acquisition of right tackle Kyle Turley from New Orleans for a 2004 second-round draft pick. Turley can also play left tackle should Pace become a lengthy holdout.
Grant Williams is the third tackle, and he has worked hard since suffering a broken leg last season to improve his upper body strength.
David Loverne, acquired in a trade from Washington, and Travis Scott, a rookie last season, are in the mix at guard, but McCollum and Adam Timmerman will be the starters.
Assuming Pace signs and reports in good shape, a line that was a problem last season now features -- from left to right -- Pace, McCollum, Wohlabaugh, Timmerman and Turley.