Matthew Stafford’s presence helped Rams catch Allen Robinson, other free agents
Matthew Stafford is not ready to go there yet.
New addition Allen Robinson joined a Rams receiving corps that now includes Robinson, Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson — with on-the-mend free agent Odell Beckham Jr. apparently still mulling a decision about where he will play in 2022.
Stafford on Wednesday declined to say whether it was the NFL’s best.
“Looks pretty good on paper,” the Rams quarterback said during a videoconference with reporters. “It’s on us to go out there and make sure that it comes to life.”
It’s mainly on Stafford, who last week signed a four-year extension that could be worth as much as $160 million, with $135 million guaranteed.
Hours after finalizing a contract extension for Matthew Stafford, the Rams traded veteran wide receiver Robert Woods to the Tennessee Titans.
Stafford was one of the main reasons Robinson signed with the Super Bowl-champion Rams, and he also was a big factor in offensive tackle Joe Noteboom’s and center Brian Allen’s decisions to re-sign with the team.
“I appreciate the way they feel about me,” Stafford said, “and the best thing I can say is the feeling is mutual.”
Highlights from each of the players’ videoconferences:
It sometimes pays — in championships — to take less: Tom Brady won six Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots and another with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers playing on deals that were below his market value.
And the quarterback market recently has exploded. See: Aaron Rodgers extensions and Deshaun Watson contracts.
Now, $135 million is nothing to dismiss, even for billionaire owner Stan Kroenke, but after leading the Rams to victory in Super Bowl LVI, Stafford was positioned to break the bank. Stafford, however, has earned a fortune during his 13-year career — mostly playing for bad Detroit Lions teams — and recognized the value of leaving room for the Rams to surround him with talent.
The Chargers made some big moves on defense, adding Khalil Mack and C.J. Jackson in particular, and the Rams lost some personnel as NFL quarterbacks find new jobs.
“I was just trying to find something that felt good for both sides,” he said, “and we were able add continue to add players, pieces around me and still take care of all the stuff that you want to take care of.”
He came for the culture — and those passes: Robinson is an eight-year veteran and three-time 1,000-yard receiver.
How could he not be attracted to playing for the defending Super Bowl champion? In coach Sean McVay’s offense? With Stafford delivering passes?
“It was everything across the board that, as a veteran, this is the kind of team you want to step into,” Robinson said, adding, “With them coming off a Super Bowl and being able to make another Super Bowl run … that’s why I’m here.”
Among other attributes, the 6-foot-2 Robinson is regarded as an elite jump-ball, contested-catch receiver, a player capable of making plays inside the 20-yard line.
“His ability to go up and make catches over guys, around guys, whatever — it is really special,” Stafford said. “But at the same time, for a guy his size, I think he does a great job separating too. ... You get the best of both worlds.”
So, Robinson is looking forward to beginning offseason workouts with Stafford in April.
“Just watching Matt’s career from afar, seeing all the receivers he’s played with and everything he’s been able to help his receiver accomplish … for me being able to kind of step into that and build that rapport, build that relationship, that’s what I’m looking forward to doing.”
Ready for a starting role: Noteboom worked as the retired left tackle Andrew Whitworth’s understudy for four seasons. Now he will be relied on to protect Stafford’s blind side full time.
Watching Whitworth prepared him for the role, Noteboom said.
“Being behind him, there’s not a better situation in the league,” Noteboom said. “Sixteen-year vet, Walter Payton man of the year. I mean, to step into his role — I had a blueprint for it for four years and I was watching his every move on and off the field.
“So that’s what gives me confidence.”
Rumors had the Broncos pursuing quarterback Aaron Rodgers, but Russell Wilson was their target all along and keeping that a secret enabled Denver to complete the deal with Seattle.
Center of attention: The prospect of free agency was “definitely a little more stressful than I thought it was going to be,” Allen said.
The Rams, and the chance to continue to play in McVay’s system with Stafford and familiar teammates, was a comfortable fit.
“I didn’t want to go somewhere and be in a situation where I didn’t have someone like Matt to work with,” Allen said, adding, “That was in the back of my mind — he’d be a hard person to let know you were leaving.
“So, definitely excited to be back with him and continue to grow our relationship and keep getting better together.”
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