Rams Rumors

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/27/21

Here is how teams finalized their Week 12 rosters:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

  • Promoted: WR Matt Cole, OL Austen Pleasants

Cincinnati Bengals

Green Bay Packers

  • Promoted: LB La’Darius Hamilton

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/24/21

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Chicago Bears

Denver Broncos

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Tennessee Titans

Steelers Made Late Push For OBJ

Odell Beckham Jr. is expected to debut for the Rams in a matter of hours. But, minutes before he signed with Los Angeles, the Steelers made a late entry into the OBJ sweepstakes, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport

[RELATED: Rams Want To Extend OBJ]

However, by that point, the wide receiver had already narrowed down his list. The Chiefs, Packers, Patriots, Seahawks, and Saints were also in the mix, but the Beckham saw the Rams as the best fit.

It just feels right about the [Rams] offense,” Beckham said. “I hope to find a groove and help this team find ways to win.”

Saints head coach Sean Payton personally tried to court the former LSU standout, but the Saints weren’t sure if he was serious about coming to New Orleans (Twitter link via Jeff Duncan of The Times-Picayune). Like most of the other teams involved, it’s believed that the Saints pitched him on a ~$1MM base salary for 2021, plus incentives. The Packers were something of an exception, according to RapSheet, offering only the veteran’s minimum.

With incentives, Beckham can make up to $3MM on his Rams deal this year. After that, he’ll be eligible for free agency, giving all of his previous suitors another chance to land him. Meanwhile, the Rams are already working to keep him from the open market.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Beckham, Bitonio, Gano

Rounding up a few contract details from this past week:

  • Odell Beckham, WR (Rams): One year, $1.25MM, with up to $3MM in team-based incentives. Incentive package is as follows: $500K if Rams get wildcard win or first-round bye; $750K for divisional round win; $750K for NFC Championship Game win; $500K for Super Bowl appearance, or $1MM for Super Bowl win. OBJ would have to play at least one snap of those postseason contests to earn the incentive (Twitter links via Albert Breer of SI.com). None of the $4.25MM paid by Browns is offset, so Beckham earns that full amount in addition to his Rams payouts.
  • Joel Bitonio, G (Browns): Three years, originally reported as $48MM. Per Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com (via Twitter), the total value actually checks in at over $49MM, as Cleveland agreed to pay Bitonio 17th-game checks on his 2020 and 2021 salaries. So Bitonio’s AAV is $16.37MM, which narrowly tops Joe Thuney‘s $16MM pact with the Chiefs and makes him the highest-paid guard on a multi-year contract.
  • Graham Gano, K (Giants): Agreed to convert ~$514K of base salary into signing bonus, thereby creating ~343K of 2021 cap space (Twitter link via ESPN’s Field Yates).

Robert Woods Tore ACL, Done For Season

The Rams officially signed Odell Beckham Jr. yesterday, but another one of their wideouts suffered a season-ending injury. Robert Woods tore his ACL at practice on Friday, reports ESPN’s Adam Schefter (via Twitter).

[RELATED: Rams, OBJ Agree To Deal]

Woods went down with a knee injury during Friday’s practice, but per Schefter (on Twitter), the wideout popped back up and finished the day. Woods even conducted interviews, and no one in the organization suspected anything was wrong until tests later revealed an “isolated ACL tear” (Twitter link).

The 29-year-old Woods was having another standout season in 2021. Through the first nine games, Woods hauled in 45 receptions for 556 yards and four touchdowns. He also had another eight carries for 46 yards and one touchdown. The wideout has been remarkably durable during his tenure with the Rams; while he missed four games during his first season with the organization, he only missed one regular season game between 2018 and 2020. Now, the veteran captain will be sidelined for at least the rest of the season, and there’s a good chance his recovery could carry over into the 2022 campaign.

The Rams, of course, added to their offense earlier this week when they won the OBJ sweepstakes, signing the veteran wideout to a one-year deal. According to Schefter (on Twitter), OBJ will indeed make his Rams debut on Monday against the 49ers. It was expected that the Matthew Stafford-led passing attack would by led by Cooper Kupp, Woods, and Beckham Jr., with Van Jefferson serving as a rotation piece. The 2020 second-round pick will presumably retain his third spot on the depth chart. Through nine games this season, Jefferson has hauled in 27 receptions for 433 yards and three touchdowns.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Poll: Who Will Earn NFC’s No. 1 Seed?

While the AFC features a deeper contender pool, the NFC brings more clarity near the top. Five teams enter Week 10 with one or two losses, bringing about a high-level second-half race for the conference’s lone bye.

The 2020 CBA reducing conference byes from two to one made the No. 1 seed more valuable. Only one team — the 2020 Buccaneers, in a season with limited attendance — has qualified for a Super Bowl without the benefit of a bye week over the past eight seasons. Week 9 certainly benefited the Cardinals, with the Rams, Packers and Cowboys joining the Buccaneers as two-loss teams. But eight weeks remain.

The Rams also made two major efforts to tilt the scales over the past week and change, trading for Von Miller and signing Odell Beckham Jr. Will that be enough to give them their first No. 1 seed since 2001? Los Angeles (7-2) is coming off a one-sided loss to Tennessee. The team has not lost one of its impact players the way the rest of the NFC’s top tier has, though Miller and Beckham are coming off injuries sustained with their previous teams. The Rams rank in the top 10 offensively and defensively and have made a major upgrade at quarterback, with Matthew Stafford sitting first in QBR after nine games. Road games against the Cardinals, Packers and Ravens remain, however.

Responsible for handing the Rams their first defeat, the Cardinals (8-1) are the NFL’s lone one-loss team and the only NFC squad to rank in the top five on offense and defense. The Cardinals, who have not earned a No. 1 seed since home-field advantage was introduced in the mid-1970s, have seen their defense make more strides under DC Vance Joseph. Arizona ranks second in defensive DVOA, though the team is now down J.J. Watt for potentially the rest of the season. The Cards, who have seen offseason additions A.J. Green and Rodney Hudson also play key roles in their early 30s, still face the Rams and Cowboys and have two Seahawks matchups — presumably each with Russell Wilson at the controls — in their final seven games.

Last earning the NFC’s top seed five years ago, the Cowboys (6-2) are coming off a strange loss to the Broncos — one in which they trailed 30-0 — and have seen Tyron Smith run into more injury trouble. The Cowboys are also down both DeMarcus Lawrence and Randy Gregory, the latter being placed on IR this week. Dallas’ defense gave up a franchise-most points last season, but the arrivals of Dan Quinn and Micah Parsons have helped the NFC East leaders move toward the middle of the pack on that side of the ball. No other NFC East team has more than three wins, but the Cowboys still have games against the Chiefs, Raiders, Saints and Cardinals.

While the Packers have gone through significant midseason turmoil, they are expected to have Aaron Rodgers back in Week 10. Jaire Alexander and Za’Darius Smith remain on IR, however. The NFC North leaders (7-2) signed Whitney Mercilus and have seen Rashan Gary fare well in replacing Smith. Despite Smith and Alexander’s absences, the Packers rank sixth defensively. Summer signing De’Vondre Campbell (83 tackles, which lead the Packers by nearly 30) has bolstered new DC Joe Barry‘s unit as well. Green Bay also stands to receive a boost once David Bakhtiari returns following his ACL rehab. The All-Pro left tackle spent nine weeks on Green Bay’s PUP list and is not expected to play in Week 10. The Packers still have games against the Rams, Ravens and Browns.

Tampa Bay’s second Super Bowl run came from the No. 5 slot; the franchise has never secured the NFC’s top seed. But this Bucs edition’s bye path includes an inviting second-half schedule. The defending champions play just one team — the Bills — with a winning record over their final eight. The Bucs (6-2) brought back their full nucleus from last season but have seen some of their veterans run into injury trouble. They will again be without Antonio Brown and Rob Gronkowski in Week 10, and Gronk may be facing another extended absence. Cornerback unavailability has also helped define Tampa Bay’s season, but the team is getting healthier on that front.

Which of these five teams will prevail en route to the NFC’s bye? Is there another squad that could make a stealth bid? Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your NFC thoughts in the comments section.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Rams Hope To Extend Odell Beckham Jr. 

The Rams have signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal, but this could wind up as a long-term arrangement. The Rams are hopeful that they’ll be able to sign Beckham to an extension, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport (Twitter link), one that would keep him in Los Angeles for 2022 and beyond.

[RELATED: Rams Sign OBJ]

The Rams weren’t viewed as a leading suitor for Beckham, but, as RapSheet notes, they’ve actually had him on the radar for years. Sean McVay & Co. finally got their man this week, following Beckham’s messy divorce from the Browns. Before that, the Chiefs, Patriots, Saints, Seahawks, and Packers were viewed as his most likely destinations.

Beckham is now set to team with Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, and youngster Van Jefferson, furnishing the Rams with one of the league’s most dangerous WR groups. Thanks in part to their efforts, Matthew Stafford stands as the NFL’s leading passer with 2,771 yards through the air. Kupp, meanwhile, leads the league in all major WR categories — 74 grabs, 1,019 receiving yards, and ten touchdown catches.

Of course, it won’t be easy to keep all their stars for the long haul, especially since newcomer Von Miller also needs a fresh deal. But, through salary cap magic, they’ve managed to keep much of the band together in recent years.

For now, they’ve got OBJ on a modest one-year deal worth up to $4.25MM. He’s expected to debut on Monday night, when the Rams face the 49ers in San Francisco.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

OBJ Notes: Rams Pursuit, Contract, Other Suitors

Matthew Stafford and the Rams offense has been cruising, and the team added another weapon today when they signed Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year deal. Predictably, Stafford is excited to see OBJ join a depth chart that already features Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.

“I’ve played with a bunch of good (receivers) in my career, and he’s up there,” Stafford said (via Charean Williams of ProFootballTalk.com). “He’s a talented guy. It’s one of those things where everybody on our team carves out their role. They do a great job of figuring out what that role is going to be and going out there and proving it — both on the practice field and in games — and then getting those opportunities. I know he’ll do the same. There’s a lot of time between now and that. We’ve just got to make sure that we’re on the same page, go out there and play ball.”

While Stafford and the Rams won the Beckham sweepstakes, a few teams were left empty handed. That included the Seahawks and Russell Wilson, who wished the wideout well but noted that his squad already has plenty of capable receivers on the depth chart.

“First of all, with Odell, he’s an unbelievable talent, a world class, generational type of talent,” Wilson said (via Mike Florio of PFT). “For our organization, we are always looking for ways to compete and find ways to win, but we have some great guys already. We have some of the best guys in the world, so to have the possibility of adding another amazing talent would be amazing. If not, we are still ready to go, hopefully all of the way, and that’s been our focus. He’s a tremendous talent.”

Some more notes following OBJ’s decision to join the Rams:

  • NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport has details on OBJ’s contract (on Twitter). Beckham Jr. got a one-year, $4.25MM deal that includes a $500K signing bonus and $750K for the rest of the season. The other $3MM is based on team-based incentives, so the wideout will get a nice payout if the team makes a Super Bowl run. This also means that OBJ could end up earning more with his new team than he was due from the Browns.
  • The Rams came in late to the bidding process, and OBJ was ultimately enticed by the team’s passing attack. “We came in a bit late —but we gave him best shot,” a team source told ESPN’s Dianna Russini (Twitter link). “Sold great QB. 65% pass. Single coverage.” Another Rams source told Russini that the team believed they “needed to add one more piece” to their receivers depth chart, with the OBJ signing allowing them to basically rotate four players for three spots.
  • Albert Breer tweets more details on the Rams pursuit, noting that the Rams initially told the wideout that they didn’t have a lot to spend. However, the player’s camp “encouraged” the organization to stay involved. Meanwhile, Yahoo’s Charles Robinson tweets that the Rams had interest in acquiring OBJ in 2018 when the Giants put him on the trade block.
  • For failed pursuits: Chiefs coach Andy Reid made a pitch to Beckham Jr., per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler (on Twitter). The 49ers also failed in their pursuit, with GM John Lynch acknowledging that the team’s underwhelming record probably didn’t make them a legit suitor…although OBJ apparently did have past interest in joining San Francisco. “I don’t think close,” Lynch responded when asked how close the organization came to signing OBJ (via Can Inman of the San Jose Mercury on Twitter). “To be blunt some of that, you have to earn the right … He’s been fond of our place. He came up to me in [2018] pregame and said “get me here, get me here.”