Reynolds, Cat-Griz 2010

Montana’s Chase Reynolds leaps over a Bobcat tackler in 2010. Despite the flashy new black uniforms, Montana lost the game 21-16.

Michael Gallacher, Missoulian

Sure the sun seems to shine every day in Los Angeles, but its rays felt particularly warming Monday morning to Chase Reynolds. After six weeks of waiting, Reynolds finally had a done deal.

The former Montana running back and NFL special-teams ace has re-signed with the Rams, moving from St. Louis to L.A. with the franchise this offseason. After signing this weekend, the Drummond native flew to California on Sunday to be at the team's facilities Monday morning.

"It can be stressful, but I just focused on working hard and being ready for the opportunity when it came," Reynolds said of NFL free agency, which opened March 9. "I obviously just tried to keep my mind straight and just work, not worry too much about the process ... and try and stay in shape and be ready for today when I had to report."

After a record-breaking college career, Reynolds, 28, went undrafted out of Montana in 2011 and signed with the Seattle Seahawks during fall training camp. He was released before the season, though the Rams snatched him up and assigned him to their practice squad. Reynolds remained there through the 2012 season.

He made his NFL debut in 2013, playing in all 16 of St. Louis's games that year on special teams. Reynolds has appeared in 33 games over the past three seasons with the Rams, making 25 career tackles with the punt and kickoff coverage units.

Reynolds, who played in Missoula from 2007 to 2010, drew interest from a few teams this spring with Oakland another front-runner, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but re-signing with the Rams was his priority.

"Been with 'em for five years and just love the guys I work with," Reynolds said. "It was definitely my preferred option when it came time to re-sign. They gave me a deal and I'm happy to be back."

Reynolds's one-year contract is north of the league minimum of $675,000 for players with three years of active roster experience and could approach $900,000 with roster bonuses and incentives. The former Griz was a restricted free agent, though the Rams did not need to tender a qualifying offer that would have entitled them to a right of first refusal on any offers made by another team.

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In January following a league owners' vote, the Rams announced they intended to uproot the franchise and return to the West Coast where the team thrived for nearly 50 years. The L.A. Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995.

Knowing a move was imminent whether he returned to the Rams or signed elsewhere, Reynolds and his wife Kila moved their family back to Montana in February. The family -- the couple have three children, son Talen and daughters Peyton and Tenley -- wanted to wait for a decision on his playing future back where Reynolds and his wife each grew up.

Reynolds split some time between his hometown of Drummond and Missoula, working out at the university and at Pfahler Sport Specific, a gym run by former teammate and Frenchtown native Steven Pfahler.

"And enjoyed the outdoors a little bit, something I haven't been able to do in a really long time," Reynolds added. "It was really exciting to be back and, shoot, be in Montana for more than a week or two."

Reynolds became a legend in Big Sky Country, breaking Montana's career rushing touchdown record as a senior and coming within a carry of doing the same to its all-time yardage mark. He finished his career with 52 rushing scores and 4,067 yards, three shy of Yohance Humphery's record.

Before that, Reynolds became the first high schooler in Montana history to rush for more than 5,000 yards in his career, leading Drummond to back-to-back undefeated Class C 8-man state championships from 2003-2005.

Reynolds is the second former Griz to garner a new contract with the Rams this offseason. L.A. used its franchise tag on cornerback Trumaine Johnson (2008-11) in March, agreeing to pay the CB nearly $14 million for the 2016 season.

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