By Bill Coats

The timing couldn’t be better for Rams linebacker Brandon Chillar. He’s having his best season in the NFL just as he’s reaching eligibility as an unrestricted free agent.

And that translates into a fat contract. Chillar would prefer to work out a deal with the Rams, but he also realizes that he might have to seek his fortune with another team.

“I’d love to come back to St. Louis,” said Chillar, who last year signed a one-year tender for $850,000 as a restricted free agent. “I love the organization, I love the players on defense, and the coaches.”

The Rams feel the same way about Chillar, according to coach Scott Linehan. “I’d love to have Brandon back,” he said. Negotiations with any potential free agents will have to wait, though.

“I don’t think now’s the time, based on what we’re trying to get done; we have three games to play,” Linehan said. “We have two games in 10 days to prepare for. Our focus is on that, but it will become a major focus when the season is over.”

A fourth-round draft pick (No. 130 overall) out of UCLA in 2004, the 6-foot-3, 242-pound Chillar is in his second full season as a starter. Manning the strong-side spot, he’s fifth on the team in tackles with 76. At that pace, he would finish with 93; he had 77 last year, 61 in 2005 and 31 in his rookie season.

Chillar, 25, also has 11⁄2 sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

“I feel good personally” about the season, Chillar said. “Obviously, I wish we could’ve won some more games, but I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides. I feel like I’m a good linebacker in this league.”

He has managed to keep his mind off his future windfall, he stressed.

“You just have to stay mentally focused on the season and not worry about the contract. I think I’ve done a good job of that all year,” Chillar said. “Like I said at the beginning of the season, if I just go out there and do my job, and do it well, the contract will take care of itself, whether it’s here or somewhere else.”