Rams agree to contract with Ndamukong Suh, could be interested in Odell Beckham Jr.
As Stan Kroenke and Sean McVay arrived with other guests for an opulent outdoor reception at the NFL owners meetings Monday night, they stopped, clinked beer bottles and said, “Cheers.”
The Rams’ owner and his head coach toasted another deal done. Less than an hour before, the Rams announced they had agreed to terms with free-agent defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh on a one-year contract.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but Suh will earn $14 million, a person with knowledge of the situation said.
Suh, a five-time Pro Bowl selection, is the latest addition to a defense remade by general manager Les Snead with a frenzy of blockbuster offseason moves, including trades for Pro Bowl cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. They join a defense that already featured lineman Aaron Donald, the reigning NFL defensive player of the year.
Suh, 31, has 51½ career sacks, and provides the Rams with a proven run-stopping interior lineman for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ 3-4 defense.
“It’s an exciting player to add to our front,” McVay said of the eight-year veteran. “Really, his resume speaks for itself. When you couple him with some of the other players we have up front, some of the players we’ve acquired this offseason, we feel like we’re adding pieces to get better.”
Kroenke was equally pleased.
“Our guys are doing a great job, so it’s exciting,” he said. “That’s what we all envisioned, and there are good players wanting to join us.”
Suh might not be the last high-profile addition. The New York Daily News, citing unnamed sources, reported Monday that the Rams were among teams that have inquired about trading for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who spends offseasons in Southern California.
“We want to be careful talking about players under contracts,” McVay said Monday when asked about Beckham, “but I think if there’s anything you’ve seen from this offseason, [it] is there really is no trade that we wouldn’t look into if we feel like, hey, it can help us get better.”
Said Snead: “I can’t talk about other teams’ players but I do think we’ve shown we’re not scared to explore trades.”
The Rams enjoyed a turnaround season in 2017 under McVay, going from one of the NFL’s worst teams to NFC West champions. Now, with ascending quarterback Jared Goff under contract for far less than the $20-plus-million salaries that premium veteran QBs can command, the Rams clearly are trying to take advantage of a window of opportunity.
From the moment the 2017 season ended with a playoff defeat against the Atlanta Falcons, Snead planned to spend the offseason improving the Rams’ defense to make it more on par with its high-scoring offense.
“We get that thing to dominant,” Snead said of the defense in January, “it would be kind of fun.”
The Rams are looking dominant, on paper anyway.
In February, Snead traded for Peters. This month, before the start of free agency, he traded for Talib. The duo has a combined five Pro Bowl selections between them and they come with combined salaries that total less than it would have cost to retain corner Trumaine Johnson, who played the last two seasons under the franchise tag.
Now they have added the 6-foot-4, 307-pound Suh, giving the Rams a potentially dominant front that also feature Donald and Michael Brockers.
Suh, 31, chose the Rams over a handful of other teams including the New Orleans Saints and Tennessee Titans. The Rams were the final stop on Suh’s free-agent tour. He visited the Rams’ facility last Tuesday and had dinner that night with McVay and team executives at Nobu in Malibu.
The New York Jets were thought to have made the largest offer, but chairman Christopher Johnson told reporters Sunday that they rescinded.
“That can’t be anything but good news for us,” McVay said Sunday night.
On Monday afternoon, as they waited for Suh to make a decision, Snead said he was not feeling antsy.
“It would probably be different if you needed a decision from him, let’s call it ASAP, because it might affect another decision,” Snead said. “In this case, because this is more, ‘Hey, you know what? This bonus became available’ … the timeline is not holding us back.
“That’s what makes this situation probably different than some.”
A few hours later, Suh was a Ram.
This will be the third NFL team for Suh, the second overall pick by Detroit in the 2010 draft. Suh played five seasons with the Lions before signing a six-year, $114-million contract with the Miami Dolphins that included $60 million in guarantees.
Suh also has cultivated a reputation for sometimes overly aggressive play. He has a history of fines, including one for $100,000 for an illegal, low block on then-Minnesota Vikings center John Sullivan, now with the Rams.
Last season with the Dolphins, Suh had 4½ sacks, the lowest total of his career in a 16-game season. The Dolphins released Suh on March 14, making him a free agent for the second time.
This time, money was probably not the decisive factor in his decision.
The Jets and the Titans were thought to have more salary-cap room for a richer deal, but the opportunity to play for McVay and Phillips on a team that appears to be ascending might have won Suh over.
“It’s great to have him,” Snead said, adding, “We always look at defense as not just one player, not just two players, not just three players but 11 guys building a wall. We think he can help with that.”
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein
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