When he was available for trade in 2018, wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. was near the top of the list of players the Los Angeles Rams wanted to acquire. When the Rams finally landed him Thursday, Beckham had become a player they needed.
That need was evident in two ways: The Rams required help for their banged-up receiver group and needed to keep adding talent in their obsessive quest to win Super Bowl LVI in their home stadium on Feb. 13, 2022.
To be sure, Beckham is the latest big name the Rams have added to a star-filled galaxy of players on a loaded roster. In case it wasn't already clear, the Rams are all-in on winning the Lombardi trophy this season, and adding Beckham eight days after trading for pass-rusher Von Miller drives that point home further.
But this move isn't just about collecting another former Pro Bowler capable of moving "Rams Royal" and "Bone" jerseys in the team store, though the Rams don't mind adding more star power in a Hollywood market that craves it. This was about finding a receiver who could help a painfully thin receiver group that has been battered by injuries and a premature divorce from veteran DeSean Jackson.
As it stands, the only accomplished, healthy wideouts on the roster are starters Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods, as well as third option Van Jefferson. In recent weeks, the Rams released Jackson after he grew uncomfortable with a diminished role and lost rookies Tutu Atwell and Jacob Harris to season-ending injuries. Earlier this week, a waiver claim to bring back released wideout Josh Reynolds fell short.
As of Thursday morning, the only depth behind Kupp, Woods and Jefferson was provided by Ben Skowronek and J.J. Koski, a pair of first-year wideouts who have a combined three catches for 30 yards.
It just so happened Beckham was the best option available for the wideout-thin and Super Bowl-hungry Rams. Add in the fact that Beckham is still going to be paid by the Cleveland Browns -- which means he could easily fit under the salary cap on a one-year deal -- and an attractive destination like Los Angeles, where Beckham spends plenty of time in the offseason, and the match makes sense for both sides.
Although landing in Los Angeles -- where Kupp and Woods are already established -- would seem to go against Beckham's desire to get back to his No. 1 wideout ways, there should still be plenty of opportunities for him to rebuild his value.
This season, the Rams have three or more receivers on the field 86% of the time -- more than any team in the league. And if that wasn't enough, the Rams also go empty -- five pass-catchers and no running backs on the field -- on 19% of those plays, also the highest in the NFL.
Where does Beckham fit? Ideally for the Rams, in a modified version of the role the Rams envisioned for Jackson. While Beckham's overall production has dropped in recent years, he still has the ability to get deep. His average depth of target this season was 13.79 yards, while the only Rams player with an average depth of target above 9.0 yards is Jefferson (12.91), according to ESPN Stats & Information research.
Given that quarterback Matthew Stafford ranks first in the NFL with 10 touchdown passes when targeting vertical routes, Beckham should have plenty of chances to not only go long but play an integral role in helping the Rams make an equally deep run in the postseason.