ST. LOUIS -- Orlando Pace, a seven-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle dogged by injuries in recent seasons, was released by St. Louis on Tuesday.
Team owner Chip Rosenbloom said in a statement that Pace, who was the first overall pick in the 1997 draft, would be remembered as "one of the finest Rams of all time." Pace, 33, started 14 games last season, but he missed half of 2007 and virtually all of 2006 due to injuries.
"I can't begin to thank Orlando for all he has meant to the Rams organization," Rosenbloom added in the statement. "It is never easy to end a relationship that has had as much success as ours, but in the interest of Orlando and the Rams, we feel now is the right time."
Pace was the first offensive lineman chosen No. 1 overall since the Minnesota Vikings took Ron Yary in the 1968 draft. The Rams dealt four draft picks -- a first-, a third-, a fourth- and a seventh-rounder -- to the New York Jets for the right to move up five spots on draft day and select Pace.
The former Ohio State University star was selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls from 1999 to 2005 and started in two Super Bowls, including the franchise's lone title after the 1998 season.
Pace's Pro Bowl haul is tied with Jack Youngblood for fourth in franchise history. Only Hall of Famers Merlin Olsen (14) and Tom Mack (11) and linebacker Les Richter (8) were selected to more all-star games. Pace also blocked for three consecutive league MVPs from 1999 to 2001 -- quarterback Kurt Warner in 1999 and 2001 and running back Marshall Faulk in 2000.
"Orlando Pace has been a mainstay on the Rams' offensive line since he was drafted in 1997, and he has proven to be one of the most efficient offensive tackles throughout his career," Rams general manager Billy Devaney said in the statement released by the team.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press