Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shane, Come Back? Don't Count on Conlan Returning to Rams

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Shane, Come Back? Don't Count on Conlan Returning to Rams

Article excerpt

Is this the end of the line for linebacker Shane Conlan and the Rams?

Probably. (You never say never.)

But Conlan, the Rams' most valuable player two seasons ago, is an unrestricted free agent and doesn't figure in the future of the salary cap-tight Rams. The veteran linebacker is beyond the Rams' range in both price (he earned $1.2 million last season) and age (32).

If he plays another season, it would be his 10th. He played six with Buffalo and the last three with the Rams.

Robert Jones, the former Dallas Cowboys linebacker signed by the Rams, turns 27 this season. Cedric Figaro, who was a special-teams standout for the Rams and started the final two games last season at middle linebacker, turns 30.

Then there are Conlan's creaky knees.

But Conlan's agent, Brett Senior, said he has gotten feelers from San Francisco, Philadelphia, Carolina, New England, Detroit and Green Bay.

"There's a number of people kicking the tires," Senior said.

According to the agent, some teams are wary of Conlan's potential price tag. Senior says his client is willing to take a pay cut, but he's not willing to play for the new veteran minimum ($275,000).

"He's not looking to break the bank," Senior said. `But he'd like to be paid fair compensation. For what Shane brings to the table, $275,000 is below fair compensation."

Retirement?

"It's a possibility," Senior said. "He's not going to go out and play for the sake of playing. He's invested well and saved his money."

However, Senior says Conlan's competitive fires still burn and his range on field rivals that of most other linebackers in the league.

"He has a desire to play at least one more year, possibly two," the agent said. "It's just a matter of where that will be facilitated."

Conlan started 11 games last season at middle linebacker for the Rams and accounted for 62 tackles. An injury to his left knee landed him on injured reserve Dec. 20.

Much ado has been made of Conlan's knees. He has attributed his gait to genetics. But, on game days, Conlan also slips on a metal knee brace - a badge from a hit by a Denver tight end in 1989.

Senior counters that Conlan has been remarkably durable. He has started 113 of 120 games in his career. Just two seasons ago, he collected a team-high 106 stops.

The lovably gruff Conlan has been called a "warrior" and a "throwback."

"For some reason, people have always made an issue of Shane and his health," Senior said. "He has this funny build and skinny legs. When you play inside linebacker, you get nicked up."

Conlan has played in three Super Bowl and been named to three Pro Bowls.

Odds and ends: The Chicago Bears have extended the contract of coach Dave Wannstedt through the year 2000. . . . A judge is investigating allegations of juror misconduct in the 1995 trial of former Rams cornerback Darryl Henley, who was convicted of smuggling 50 pounds of cocaine. …

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