Less than 72 hours before kicking off the 2009 season, the St. Louis Rams have dropped the guy expected to be their starting strongside linebacker.
The team released Chris Draft on Thursday after he declined to take a $380,000 pay cut, according to Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Draft was set to make $1.225 million this season, so the cut would have dropped him down to the veteran minimum.
Draft, 33, was the third-oldest player on the Rams roster, so the move isn’t surprising after an offseason that saw many veterans sent packing in the wake of Steve Spagnuolo’s hiring. The timing of it is a bit surprising, given Draft’s role on the first-team defense.
They said because of the their current salary cap situation, that down
the line with the incentives they needed to pay to other players they’d
end up being over the cap,” Draft told the Post-Dispatch. “It seems
like there’s other people that that could have been directed to, that
(a pay cut) wouldn’t have impacted that much. It’s a business decision;
they feel like they have to do it.
As a result of the move, 2008’s Mr. Irrelevant has suddenly become very relevant. David Vorbora, the 252nd and final pick after wrapping up a college career at Idaho, will move into the starting lineup. Vorbora played in eight games, and started one, as a rookie. The team also re-signed Quinton Culbertson, who was one of the players cut last weekend when rosters dropped to 53 players.