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Monday, March 2, 2009
Source: Bartell signs for 4 years, $28M

By John Clayton
ESPN.com

Ron Bartell learned Monday he can come back home.

A couple of days after making a free-agent visit to the New Orleans Saints, the Rams cornerback reached a four-year, $28 million deal to stay in St. Louis, according to a source. Included in the deal is $13.6 million in guarantees.

Over the past 36 hours, Bartell had been negotiating with the Saints and the Rams. He had hoped to wrap up a deal with the Rams on the eve of free agency Thursday night, but his offer was in the $6 million a year range. He visited the Saints, but left New Orleans without a contract.

Talks heated up Monday and the deal was reached with the Rams by the middle of the afternoon.

Bartell was a second-round draft choice in 2005 and was considered their main free agent to lock up to a long-term deal. He started 28 games over the past two years and intercepted five passes during those two seasons. He has 36 starts during his four-year career with the Rams.

So far, the Rams have been able to sign the top offensive lineman in free agency -- center Jason Brown. Now, they have reached an agreement with their top starter left in free agency.

John Clayton is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.