The afternoon started with plenty of jokes.
The Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey posted a coy picture on Twitter with the caption: “Hehehehehe.” Coach Sean McVay, when asked by reporters if the team had interest in signing the free agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr., deflected the question. But as he stood at the microphone, he grinned.
Less than an hour later, the deal for Beckham was finalized. Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowl receiver and the 2014 offensive rookie of the year, agreed to terms with the Rams, the team announced. The move is the latest action from the Rams’ general manager, Les Snead, in an attempt to build a Super Bowl roster with proven veterans regardless of consequences to the team’s finances and draft capital.
The Cleveland Browns released Beckham, 29, last week amid drama between him and quarterback Baker Mayfield. The two did not develop on-field chemistry during Beckham’s three years in Cleveland, and the receiver’s father posted a compilation video on social media of Mayfield either misfiring or not throwing the ball toward Beckham when he was open.
Beckham, drafted No. 12 overall by the Giants in 2014, quickly became one of the N.F.L.’s biggest stars after securing a one-handed touchdown catch against the Dallas Cowboys with the ball at his fingertips. But the Giants traded him in 2019 for first- and third-round picks in the 2019 draft and safety Jabrill Peppers. After Cleveland could not find a trade partner last week, they released Beckham, and he went unclaimed on waivers.
The signing escalates the pressure on the Rams to win a Super Bowl, which will be hosted this year in their home venue, SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif. Ten days ago, Snead traded for Von Miller, an outside linebacker who is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and was chosen as most valuable player for the Super Bowl in the 2015 season. This off-season, Snead acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions in exchange for draft picks, including two in the first round, and quarterback Jared Goff. Snead in 2019 also traded for Ramsey, one of the best cornerbacks in the league, with the Jacksonville Jaguars in a package that also included two first-round draft picks.
Snead’s philosophy has been to rely on veterans with elite track records and to collect them by doling out draft picks. Now, with a roster laden with talent, the Rams have a chance to prove that its method works.