It's not like veteran fullback Mike Karney was blindsided by the news. He could see the handwriting on the wall for months — in large lettering — that he wasn't in the Rams' plans.
The news became official this week when coach Steve Spagnuolo informed Karney that he was being released.
"It's kind of been in the works for some time now," Karney said Tuesday. "Throughout the process of me being inactive for four weeks my agent had been calling and talking to Kevin Demoff just about what was going on."
Beginning with Denver on Nov. 28, Karney was placed on the pregame inactive list for Games 11-14. He saw action in the final two games of the 2010 season only because his replacement, Brit Miller, suffered a season-ending knee injury in Game 14 against Kansas City.
Once the regular season ended, Karney had a regular dialogue with coach Steve Spagnuolo, via text and phone conversations. Once Pat Shurmur was hired as head coach in Cleveland, Karney was anxious to see who would replace Shurmur as offensive coordinator in St. Louis. When Josh McDaniels was hired, Karney knew his days were really numbered in St. Louis.
"I know what offenses (McDaniels) has run," Karney said. "I know Josh is not known to use a fullback."
So Karney's release came basically through mutual agreement; he was actually informed Monday by Spagnuolo.
"It's been an open, good relationship throughout this whole thing," Karney said. "I have no animosity. I'm not bitter. I'm just happy that the decision's been made and both parties can move forward.
"They've made a decision to fit the offense towards Sam (Bradford). And I respect that. He's a great quarterback, and obviously the future of the Rams. But it was just nice of them to make the decision early."
Karney had one year left on a three-year, $3.5 million free-agent deal he signed with the Rams in March 2009. As a released player, Karney can be signed immediately — he doesn't have to wait until the start of the free agency and trading period March 4.
(Of course, there won't be a free agency and trading period March 4 without a new collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.)
"My agent and I really wanted to have this done now, so that we have a chance (to sign elsewhere) in this next month before a potential lockout," Karney said.
Hooking up with another team in the next 3½ weeks may be a long shot given the labor uncertainty, but at least Karney can let teams know that he's available.
"We felt that the sooner the better, and we conveyed that to the Rams," Karney said. "They agreed, and out of respect they granted our wish at the end of the day. You know, teams can really hold onto these things and wait. They were respectful enough, professional enough, and they felt that way about me to where, 'Hey, look, you're a good enough player but we want to give you the opportunity to find a team as soon as possible.' "
Karney's cause in St. Louis was hurt by the fact that he played very little on special teams. Miller, on the other hand, is one of the team's best special teams performers.
There was no bigger advocate for Karney on the Rams' roster than running back Steven Jackson, who was ecstatic to get a lead-blocking fullback two years ago when Karney was signed.
On Tuesday, Jackson tweeted: "I hear my 'bro' Karney was released. I'm bummed out about the news but that's the business. He's my true friend and not just a teammate."
Karney said, "Steven and I had a lot of aspirations of doing well together. That he and I couldn't really establish more of what we wanted to do on the field, that kind of is the saddest part."
Karney's wife Kim gave birth to their first child Friday, a boy named Daxton Michael Karney.