Rams sign Stephen Davis for one year, $850K

Updated: September 1, 2006, 9:48 PM ET
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams found a veteran backup running back who can help their workhorse Steven Jackson when they agreed to a one-year, $850,000 contract with running back Stephen Davis on Friday.

Running Back
Carolina Panthers

Profile
2005 SEASON STATISTICS
Rush Yds TD Rec Yds TD
180 549 12 5 45 0

The deal includes a $40,000 signing bonus and a minimum base salary of $810,000. Barring complications, the contract should be made official Friday, and Davis, a 10-year veteran, will begin practicing with the Rams for their Sept. 10 regular-season opener.

Davis, 32, was released by the Carolina Panthers on March 1 in a salary cap-related move that could also be attributed to Davis' history of chronic knee problems. The move saved Carolina nearly $3 million against the cap.

Davis visited the Rams a week ago, passed a physical and received an offer. The team awaited word for a week and Davis and the Rams finally worked out the deal Friday morning.

With Marshall Faulk gone for the season, Davis was a perfect fit to work with Jackson, who is considered one of the best young backs in the game.

However, it is not yet clear how the addition of Davis will affect the St. Louis depth chart behind Jackson. The Rams signed former Green Bay backup Tony Fisher early in the unrestricted free agency period and he is projected as the third-down back. The Rams, in need of a more physical short-yardage runner, signed Fisher just before camp began, when it became obvious that Faulk would not play in 2006.

To make the deal work, the Rams gave Davis a $40,000 signing bonus and guaranteed a good portion of his base salary to ensure in Davis' mind he would be with the team.

The Rams tried to get Michael Bennett from the Saints but he signed with the Kansas City Chiefs.

A former Auburn standout, Davis, who finished the 2005 season on injured reserve, has rushed for 7,875 yards and 65 touchdowns on 1,905 carries. He also has 167 receptions for 1,404 yards and three touchdowns.

In the prime of his career, Davis personified the workhorse tailback, averaging 300.6 rushes per season in a five-year span and three times logging 300-plus attempts. Davis had four seasons of 1,000 or more yards. In 2003, his first season with the Panthers, he posted a career-best 1,444 yards in leading Carolina to a berth in Super Bowl XXXVIII.

Davis began his career as a fourth-round pick of Washington in 1996 and played with the Redskins for seven seasons before he was released for salary cap considerations. He signed with Carolina, which was a homecoming of sorts, since he is a Spartanburg, S.C., native. But his tenure with the Panthers was marked by knee problems.

In 2004, Davis underwent the controversial "microfracture" surgery and was limited to two games. It marked just the latest in a series of treatments for knee problems. He was delayed in starting camp last summer before appearing in 13 games with 11 starts and carrying 180 times for 549 yards and 12 touchdowns.

ESPN.com senior NFL writers John Clayton and Len Pasquarelli contributed to this story.