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Holdout Faulk Signs 7-Yr Deal

Marshall Faulk signed a seven-year, $45.15 million contract with the St. Louis Rams on Wednesday, and said his 12-day holdout was not about money.

Faulk said negotiations picked up momentum after he saw a TV report suggesting he wanted no part of the training camp grind he's missed in Macomb, Ill.

"I want to be there with them, I want to sweat with them, I want to cramp up with them," Faulk said. "That's part of it. You pegged me wrong."

Flanked by agent Rocky Arceneaux at an afternoon news conference, Faulk signed the contract that makes him the highest-paid Rams player ever.

"This is by far the biggest contract in Rams history, and we really expect Marshall to make a significant contribution," team president John Shaw said.

"It's a lot of money," said Rams executive vice president Jay Zygmunt, who negotiated the deal.

Faulk, who has rushed for 5,320 yards in five NFL seasons, is guaranteed $9.6 million. That includes a $7 million signing bonus and $2.6 million base salary this season. He'll make $19 million in the first four seasons.

The sticking point in negotiations was the fifth year, in which Faulk will get a $7 million salary and a $5 million roster bonus. The deal was structured in that fashion to prevent the Rams from designating Faulk as a transition or franchise player. The Rams had wanted to load the contract at the end.

He'll also make $7 million in the sixth and seventh years. In addition, Faulk can void the contract after four years and become an unrestricted free agent.

"I don't think he'll opt out," Arceneaux said with a chuckle. "If he gets to year five of the contract, there's a big reward."

Now that the talking is finally over, Faulk said he was looking forward to earning his pay. He planned to start practicing Thursday.

Faulk was the league's top all-purpose back last season with Indianapolis. He rushed for 1,319 yards and caught 86 passes. The Rams acquired Faulk from the Colts for second- and fifth-round draft picks two days before the NFL draft in April.

The club knew they'd have to rework the contract he signed out of San Diego State as the second player taken in the 1994 draft. Faulk had two years to go on a deal that was scheduled to pay him $2.2 million in base salary this year.

Faulk attended an early minicamp but skipped the June minicamp. The signing comes three days after the Rams scrimmaged with the Colts in Champaign, Ill., and Faulk said he hated to miss that gathering.

"Why would I duck them?" he said. "I would love to scrimmage against those guys. Nothing against the players, the coaching staff or Jim Irsay, but there's some people there who felt I couldn't play the game at the level at which I was playing."

Coach Dick Vermeil said last week that he would have held Faulk out of the scrimmage in any case.

The Rams play their first preseasn game Saturday against the Oakland Raiders at the Trans World Dome and Faulk didn't know if he'd play. He's been working out with trainer Bobby Kersee, but knew that wasn't the same as being on the field.

"I'm pretty familiar with the offense," he said. "I hope I'm in shape. But there's nothing like running with pads and practicing every day."

©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed

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