Faulk agrees to restructure contract

INDIANAPOLIS -- Set to become a backup for the first time in his NFL career, St. Louis Rams tailback Marshall Faulk has signed a new, two-year contract that better reflects his revised role with the team.

Rams officials, here for the annual predraft combine workouts, confirmed that Faulk had essentially restructured his contract, a move that will save St. Louis about $1.5 million in cap room. Coach Mike Martz recently announced that Faulk, who turns 32 on Saturday, will come off the bench in 2005 and that Steven Jackson, the team's first-round choice in the 2004 draft, will be elevated to the starter's spot.

"It should give us the best of both worlds," said Martz, who met with Faulk two weeks ago to discuss the switch. "Marshall realizes that it was time for this kind of change. It should enable him to stay healthy and stay productive."

Under the new contract, Faulk received a $2 million signing bonus. He will receive base salaries of $2 million each for the 2005 and 2006 campaigns. The 11-year veteran was scheduled to earn $6 million in 2005 between his base salary and workout bonus, and his salary cap charge would have been $7.527 million.

His old contract ran through the 2008 season, and Faulk was due salaries of $5.75 million (in 2006), $6 million (2007) and $7.5 million (2008). It is not known whether the Rams would have considered releasing Faulk had he declined to restructure, but it never got to that point because he was amenable to reworking his contract.

Beset by knee injuries, Faulk has missed playing time over the last three seasons, his numbers have dropped, and he hasn't posted a 1,000-yard campaign since 2001. In a five-year stretch between 1997-2001, he averaged 1,295 yards. Over the last three seasons, his average has dropped to 848.3 yards.

In 2004, Faulk carried 195 times for 774 yards and three touchdowns. The rushes marked the fewest of his career, and the rushing yards were the second least of his NFL tenure.

Jackson gained 673 yards on 134 carries.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com. To check out Len's chat archive, click hereInsider.