The new Rams players, of course, mainly were drawn by the huge paydays they will earn after they signed free-agent contracts on Friday.
They are key additions for a franchise aiming to improve its fortune and end what has grown to a 13-year playoff drought.
During an introductory news conference at Cal Lutheran, Woods and Whitworth said they were looking forward to playing for new Coach Sean McVay and with quarterback Jared Goff.
Woods grew up in Carson and starred at Gardena Serra High and USC before he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills in 2013.
“The Rams made the trip home and so did I,” said Woods, who received a five-year deal that could be worth as much as $39 million. “Big day, very exciting. I just can’t wait to get going and look forward to working with Jared Goff.”
McVay said he has been a fan of Woods since the receiver was running precise routes for USC.
“He’s one of the rare players that has the ability to play both on the inside and the outside,” McVay said.
Woods joins a receivers corps that includes Tavon Austin, the eighth pick in the 2013 draft, and second-year pros Pharoh Cooper, Michael Thomas and Nelson Spruce.
“My biggest thing, or how I look at my game is as a complete receiver,” said Woods, who has 203 career receptions, 12 for touchdowns. “A complete receiver needs to be able to play inside and outside. I think I can move all around the field. I can match up against quick corners. I can match up against big corners with speed and quickness.”
While the Rams were drawn to Woods because of his potential, the 6-foot-7, 330-pound Whitworth brings 11 years of NFL experience at left tackle.
“His resume kind of speaks for itself,” McVay said. “I haven’t seen, really, any falloff…. He’s a pro’s pro.”
The Bengals tried to keep Whitworth, but their offer reportedly did not include the number of contract years or guarantees offered by the Rams. Whitworth agreed to terms on Thursday.
“This just seemed like one of those opportunities,” he said. “To go and make a difference and try to be a part of a locker room that I could be a leader and be someone that can help a team turn in a direction that they want to go.”
At 35, Whitworth is the oldest player on the Rams’ roster and four years older than McVay.
“Age is obviously an issue,” he said, laughing. But he has not missed a start in the last three seasons. “I still feel like I’m going to win enough percentages of blocks that you’re going to feel like that’s not a position you have to worry about.”
The addition of Whitworth, McVay said, will send Greg Robinson to right tackle, where he will compete with third-year pro Rob Havenstein. In the wake of the release of center Tim Barnes, McVay said interior linemen would be trained at guards and center while the Rams continue to search for replacements.
Barnes was among four veterans removed from the roster via trade or release, including defensive linemen William Hayes and Eugene Sims as well as tight end Lance Kendricks. All had significant histories playing under former Coach Jeff Fisher.
McVay said the departures were not an attempt by the organization to distance himself from the Fisher era.
“There’s a lot of respect in this building, and me personally, for Coach Fisher and what he’s accomplished and what he did here,” he said. “It’s more along the lines of looking at what we’ve got in place, what we’ve seen out there in free agency and through the draft and how we can find a way to make the best” roster decisions.
The Rams have about $17 million in salary-cap space.
That could grow if they release more players, or if they trade cornerback Trumaine Johnson. The Rams put the franchise tag on Johnson for the second year in a row and will pay him $16.7 million this season if they cannot work out a long-term deal.
The Rams tendered restricted free-agent defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks, who is due to appear in court next week after his arrest in Sacramento last week on suspicion of felony domestic abuse. “We’re continuing to gather information in regards to that,” McVay said. “It’s a very serious incident. We’re just continuing to gather those facts. Really see what went on. But we’re hoping to get some things figured out and then how that affects and dictates the way that we’ll move forward.” …. Tre Mason, a running back who did not play last season after several off-the-field incidents, was waived by the Rams, according to the NFL’s transaction report. Mason, a third-round pick from Auburn in 2014, was placed on the “did not report” list at the start of training camp last July. Mason had been arrested four months earlier on suspicion of drug and driving-related offenses. He also was reportedly involved in other incidents that required police intervention. Mason, 23, rushed for 972 yards and scored six touchdowns in two seasons.