Payne trade to St. Louis helps agent Elias

What was a difficult position for veteran agent Albert Elias turned into a win-win for a pair of his clients who happen to be close friends since their days as teammates at Louisiana-Monroe.

Elias helped engineer a trade Tuesday that sent veteran safety Chris Harris from the Carolina Panthers to the Chicago Bears. The Panthers were going to release Harris and Elias found a team that wanted Harris. He’s expected to be the starting strong safety for the Bears, who originally drafted him in the sixth round in 2005.

But by bringing Harris to the Bears, Elias was in an awkward spot because Kevin Payne, another of his clients, was there and at the bottom of the depth chart at safety. The Bears figured to release Payne but Elias worked late into the night to find a new home for his client and was successful. The Bears traded to Payne to the St. Louis Rams late this afternoon for a conditional 2011 draft pick, believed to be a seventh rounder.

"It's kind of crazy how everything went down," Payne told the Chicago Tribune. "Me and Chris have been good friends going back to college and we have always talked. When they traded for Chris, Albert was behind the scenes working on everything. I will say everything worked out for both of us -- Chris and I. I'm excited right now and I know Chris feels the same way."

Payne will have an opportunity to compete for a spot with the Rams, particularly if St. Louis is unable to bring back veteran O.J. Atogwe, a restricted free agent. If Payne and Harris play well, they have an opportunity to get contracts with their new teams.

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