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Rams release veteran WR Bruce

ST. LOUIS (March 6, 2006) -- St. Louis Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce is a free agent for the first time in his career after the team released him following failed contract negotiations.

The team cut their longest-tenured player March 5 after talks broke down on a restructured deal. But they remained hopeful March 7 of getting an agreement that would bring Bruce back for a 13th season.

The 33-year-old Bruce had a salary-cap figure of $10 million for next season. He had been due to receive a $1.5 million roster bonus March 6, the first day of the free-agency period, as part of his salary.

That was the final year of a seven-year contract he signed in 2000.

The Rams had reportedly offered a three-year deal worth about $9 million, including a $5 million contract in the first season.

"Isaac has been an integral and valuable member of our organization for a long time, both on and off the field," said Jay Zygmunt, the team's president of football operations. "This has been a difficult process.

"However, we remain optimistic that a contract extension can be completed in the near future."

Bruce has been with the team since 1994, the year before they moved to the Midwest, and has been to four Pro Bowls.

Bruce is the Rams' career leader in receptions (813), receiving yards (12,278) and receiving touchdowns (77). He also caught the game-winning touchdown pass in the Rams' lone Super Bowl victory after the 2000 season.

His receiving yardage is 12th best in NFL history.

Last season, Bruce missed five games with turf toe and had 36 receptions for 525 yards. In 2004, his last full season, he had 89 catches for 1,292 yards with six touchdowns.

Over his career, he's been durable. Bruce has played every game in seven seasons and late last season he felt pretty much like the player the Rams drafted in the second round in 1994.

The Rams have only two wide receivers under contract, Torry Holt and Dane Looker. Kevin Curtis and Shaun McDonald are restricted free agents.

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