By Howard Balzer for KSDK Sports
(KSDK Sports) -- Rams coach Jeff Fisher wasn't pleased when linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar was suspended for the first four games of the season for violating the NFL's policy on performance enhancing drugs.
Tuesday, we learned just how disappointed when they terminated Dunbar's contract just as he is beginning his suspension.
Dunbar was set to be the team's starting strong-side linebacker when the suspension came down. He played on the weak side last season, and stayed on the field in passing situations where he struggled at times.
The selection of Alec Ogletree in the first round of the draft resulted in Dunbar switching sides, and Ogletree is expected to stay on the field in the nickel defense.
With Dunbar's suspension looming, the Rams signed Will Witherspoon on July 22, and he quickly became the starter on the strong side. The development of rookie free agents Ray Ray Armstrong, Daren Bates and Jonathan Stewart also likely contributed to the decision to part ways with Dunbar.
Bates is the backup to Witherspoon, while Stewart is the backup in the middle behind James Laurinaitis and Armstrong is Ogletree's backup.
With Dunbar released, his $1.3 million salary is wiped off the books, although he was already losing over $300,000 during the suspension. The remaining $994,000 won't count against the Rams' salary cap, although they will be charged $500,000 for the proration from the $1 million signing bonus he received in 2012. The Rams are also subject to a fine of about $102,000 because Dunbar was the team's third player suspended in this calendar year.
Howard Balzer will be contributing to KSDK Sports throughout the 2013 season. Howard hosts PrimeTime Monday-Friday from 6-8 pm on CBS Sports 920, and Pro Football Sunday pre- and post-game shows on 590 the Man. He is also a host on SiriusXM NFL radio and one of 44 selectors for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.