Rams hope Edwards can help secondary problems

It could take several months, perhaps even more, for deposed Miami Dolphins head coach Dave Wannstedt to land his next job. For safety Antuan Edwards, the first player victim of the Dolphins' coaching change, the wait was momentary.

The six-year veteran, whose contract was abruptly terminated Wednesday, was awarded to the St. Louis Rams on waivers Thursday night, ESPN.com has learned. The Rams and Atlanta Falcons were the only two franchises to submit waiver claims on Edwards, who had started eight of the Dolphins' nine games this season.

St. Louis was awarded Edwards' rights by having the poorer record of the two teams. Ironically, Atlanta attempted to sign Edwards as an unrestricted free agent this summer, but he opted for the Dolphins over proposals from the Falcons and Green Bay, the team with whom he played his first five NFL seasons.

It was mildly surprising that a few more teams, such as Denver and Carolina, did not make waiver claims on Edwards.

There were many people, Edwards included, surprised by his release. Bothered by a groin injury, he had not played well lately, even he conceded, but no one anticipated he would be cut loose. The axing came after general manager Rick Spielman consulted with interim coach Jim Bates, and the two decided to replace Edwards with Arturo Freeman.

Edwards, 27, becomes the latest candidate in St. Louis' seemingly endless quest for a quality defensive back to play in nickel and dime coverage packages. It has been a search that has led frustrated Rams officials and coaches in many different directions.

Only two weeks ago, the Rams signed six-year veteran cornerback
Tod McBride, who has spent much of his career in the nickel role.

The laundry list of other veteran defensive backs who either signed with the Rams or agreed to contract terms includes Tom Knight, Zack Bronson, Jason Sehorn, Kwamie Lassiter and Justin Lucas. The Rams also chose Jason Shivers in the fifth round of the draft, believing he could fill a dime role, but he didn't play well enough in the preseason to win a roster spot and is instead on the team's practice squad.

The perpetually injured Knight was hurt in camp, placed on injured reserve, and then released. Bronson suffered a season-ending injury and Sehorn, who played with the Rams last season, failed his physical examination because of a foot problem. Lassiter played in three games in a dime role and on specials teams, collected 11 tackles, but was released in late October. Originally released by the Rams in camp, Lucas was re-signed by the club during a spate of injuries, and remains on the roster in a backup role. McBride has played in one game since signing a one-year contract.

St. Louis will inherit the one-year, $535,000 contract that Edwards signed with Miami this summer. Prorated over the balance of the season, that means St. Louis is responsible for $251,765. The Rams, who are at the 53-man limit, will have to make a move to create a spot for Edwards on their roster.

In his eight games with the Dolphins this season, Edwards had 45 tackles, one sack, one forced fumble and six passes defensed. A first-round pick of the Packers in '99, Edwards has appeared in 62 games and has 201 tackles, seven interceptions, 23 passes defensed and three sacks in his career.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior writer for ESPN.com.