Giants want at least two No. 1 picks for Odell Beckham Jr.; Rams keep options open
A flurry of offseason moves put the Rams in the headlines before the NFL owners meetings began.
The blockbuster acquisition of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and speculation about another possible impending one involving New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., kept them there.
On Wednesday, as owners, coaches and team executives exited, the Rams still commanded near center stage after a report that the Giants would want at least two first-round draft picks for Beckham, according to a report by ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
The Rams have the 23rd pick in next month’s draft. If they improve on their 2017 success, their pick would presumably be lower in 2019.
Beckham spends offseasons in Southern California. The Rams are regarded as his preferred destination if the Giants decide to trade him.
“I wouldn’t comment on any report, on any hypothetical trades,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer and vice president for football operations, said during an interview after the meetings adjourned.
Demoff echoed statements this week by general manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay. Both said they could not talk about other teams’ players — although McVay did answer hypothetical questions surrounding Beckham on Tuesday — but moves that netted cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib demonstrated their willingness to aggressively pursue trades.
“Les makes a lot of calls to a lot of teams,” Demoff said, adding, “We make a lot of inquiries. If there are players that can make us better, we’ll always be interested.
“That’s not in particular to the player everybody’s talked about here.”
Most of the buzz at the meetings revolved around Beckham, who is entering the final year of his contract and seeking a mega-extension. The back page of the New York Daily News sports section this week featured a photo of Beckham superimposed in front of the Hollywood sign with the headline, “Odell California.” Another featured a photo and the headline “I [heart] L.A.”
Following their turnaround season and playoff appearance under McVay, the Rams are suddenly a destination of choice.
Peters and Talib, who have a combined five Pro Bowl appearances, indicated as much during their introductory press conferences. Suh, a five-time Pro Bowl player, cemented the status by agreeing to a one-year contract for $14 million.
Much has changed in the last 12 months.
Last year at the owners’ meetings, the Rams were coming off a 4-12 season in their return to Los Angeles from St. Louis.
“We’ve had a successful year off the field in Year One,” Demoff said at the time, “Obviously, we’d like more success on the field.”
McVay guided the Rams to an 11-5 record, the NFC West title and their first postseason appearance since 2004. They went from the NFL’s worst offense to one of the best and led the league in scoring.
“Everybody in the building, from ownership on down is excited about the foundation we laid on the field in 2017,” Demoff said Wednesday. “But I think we were all disappointed with the way the season ended…. The approach this offseason has reflected a group that was encouraged by 2017 but was certainly not satisfied.”
The trades for Peters and Talib before free agency began were part of Snead and McVay’s plan to “remake the defense” the way defensive coordinator Wade Phillips wanted it, Demoff said. The Rams addressed a pressing need at cornerback with two players that will earn a combined $12.7 million in 2018, less than the $17 million they paid Trumaine Johnson under the franchise tag last season.
Suh was “a bonus that came our came our way,” Demoff said.
Suh will play alongside Aaron Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year. Donald, like Beckham, is entering the final year of his rookie contract and is seeking a new deal that will make him among the league’s highest paid players.
Snead, McVay and senior assistant Tony Pastoors met with Donald’s agents last month at the scouting combine in Indianapolis.
“It’s priority No. 1,” Demoff said, adding, “Hopefully, we’ll start to get some traction with Aaron and really try to get to the point where you can reward him for the player he is.
“When you look at our salary-cap flexibility both this year and moving forward, we have the ability to reward him, and I think for us that is still a great goal.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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