Mark Clayton eager to resume contract negotiations with Rams
BY GUERIN EMIG World Sports Writer
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
6/28/11 at 4:48 AM
Related Story: Negotiations to continue this week
NORMAN – Any other year, Mark Clayton has signed a new contract and is preparing for a second season with the Rams. He's probably in St. Louis, learning the ways of new offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and catching passes from Sam Bradford.
The NFL lockout works in strange ways, however. And so it was that Clayton found himself on the Oklahoma campus last week, catching passes from another Sooner Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback.
Old OU teammate Jason White.
"I haven't thrown a ball to Mark since... You know what, we threw for the combine," White said.
The 2005 pre-draft combine, he meant.
"Man, yeah. It's been a while," Clayton said. "But it was a completion of course."
The two co-hosted Adrian Peterson's annual youth football camp. Demonstrating the mechanics of a three-step drop, White lofted a perfect toss over the head of some starry-eyed 10-year-old right into Clayton's hands.
"I didn't expect anything less," Clayton grinned.
The morning was a pleasant diversion from the murkiness of the lockout. Owners and players appear to be trying, but optimism is cautious.
"Through our player reps, things sound really good. From the players' perspective, we're kind of set where we want," Clayton said. "It seems like it's close. So that's positive. From that standpoint, you just kind of sit and wait."
Not an easy thing for Clayton to do, considering he had hoped to work out a new contract with the Rams about the time the lockout ensued.
"I can't worry about it because I can't do anything about it," he said. "But where we were was good. The conversations and talks were good. My agent had proposed something really good to me, and I liked it. But the lockout came and cut those talks short.
"Now we wait to resume those and see where we're at."
It would seem in Clayton's best interest to re-sign.
He made a career-high 10 catches for 119 yards in the 2010 opener, his Rams debut less than a week after being traded to St. Louis by Baltimore. He had 23 receptions for 306 yards and a pair of touchdowns before suffering a season-ending knee injury in his fifth game.
"The knee is doing wonderful," Clayton reported last week. "I broke my training regimen to come here, because I've got my boy (he lifted his knee) back. I actually came here recently and ran some routes with Sam."
The idea being to build on the instant chemistry he enjoyed with Bradford. Clayton relishes the partnership.
"I got to talk to Sam before the season when he was here doing his pro day," Clayton said. "I was finishing school at the time. It's really weird. I was like, 'Man, before it's over I'm gonna come play with you. We're gonna get it in.'
"And then to get traded there and literally getting to play with him, and doing it like we did, it was really exciting."
There is a lot for Clayton to like about the Rams.
"I would love to stay," he said. "I love playing with Sam. The organization is great. Coach 'Spags' (Steve Spagnuolo), I love him. I love his passion. He's a real fiery dude. He's a defensive guy and I play offense. Opposites attract, I guess."
Now, if he and the rest of the NFL could just get back to work.
"Supposedly they resumed talks this week," Clayton said. "Hopefully things look good and we'll hear something really good here in a little bit."
Original Print Headline: Clayton must wait for contract
Guerin Emig 918-581-8355
Former OU receiver Mark Clayton had 23 catches for 306 yards for the Rams in 2010 before a knee injury ended his season. JEFF ROBERSON / AP file