Rams GM: Aaron Donald wants to come back; we’d like Odell Beckham Jr. back too

Cooper Kupp (from left) celebrates with Rams general manager Les Snead and Matthew Stafford after Super Bowl LVI.
Cooper Kupp, from left, celebrates with Rams general manager Les Snead and Matthew Stafford after Super Bowl LVI. Championship under his belt, Snead says finding the right players to fit the roster has become more of a focus.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The Super Bowl champion Rams are keeping their priorities in order, or at least addressing their offseason in that fashion.

After signing quarterback Matthew Stafford to a $160-million extension last week, general manager Les Snead has turned his attention to star defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

Donald has three years remaining on the six-year, $135-million deal he received in 2018, but the Rams intend to give the three-time NFL defensive player of the year a new contract as a reward for his performance — and to entice him to return for a ninth season and beyond.


Donald, a seven-time All-Pro, has not publicly refuted a television report that said he would consider retiring if the Rams won the Super Bowl. But at a post-Super Bowl parade rally he said, “If we can bring the super team back, why not run it back?”

So, will Donald return as the Rams attempt to become the first team in nearly two decades to repeat as Super Bowl champion?

Matthew Stafford’s abilities are a big reason Allen Robinson signed with the Rams and why offensive linemen Joe Notebook and Brian Allen decided to stay with the team.

“Aaron’s articulated to us that he would like to be back,” Snead said Tuesday during a videoconference with reporters, “and he would definitely like to continue to try to do special things not only as an individual player but as a team.”

Snead said the Rams have “chatted” with Donald’s agents.

“We’re trying to come up with a win-win situation to reward Aaron but still definitely be able to continue trying to compete as at team at the highest level,” Snead said.

Since the unofficial start of free agency on March 14, the Rams have lost, released or traded multiple players from the team that defeated the Cincinnati Bengals to win Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadiium.

Outside linebackers Von Miller and Obo Okoronkwo, cornerback Darious Williams, lineman Sebastian Joseph-Day and tight end Johnny Mundt signed with other teams. Offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth retired. The Rams released punter Johnny Hekker and traded receiver Robert Woods.

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.

The Rams signed free-agent receiver Allen Robinson and re-signed offensive lineman Joseph Noteboom and center Brian Allen.

The Rams held a roster spot and salary cap space for Miller, Snead said, but when Miller agreed to terms on a contract with the Buffalo Bills, the Rams decided to “pivot to a different position” and signed Robinson. The acquisition of the versatile receiver preceded the deal that sent Woods — who carried a salary-cap number of $10 million — to the Tennessee Titans for a 2023 sixth-round draft pick.

Snead cited three “variables” for why the Rams traded Woods: the Rams’ salary cap situation, the opportunity to diversify the receiving corps and the continuing evolution of players such as third-year pro Van Jefferson, who is playing on a rookie contract.

The Jacksonville Jaguars have the No. 1 pick in the 2022 draft, which will be held April 28-30 in Las Vegas.

The Rams are continuing to pursue free-agent receiver Odell Beckham Jr. The Rams signed Beckham last November, and he performed exceptionally well before suffering a knee injury in the Super Bowl.

“He’s someone that we want, definitely want back,” Snead said, adding, “When he’s getting to full speed and has those fresh legs, we’d love to have him be a part.”

Does that mean Snead anticipates Beckham will remain a free agent until perhaps midseason?

“He has that choice,” Snead said, adding, “We have been in discussion with Odell, his representation, right, and [are trying] to make him a Ram sooner than later.”

The pool of high-profile free agents shrank Tuesday when former Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith reportedly agreed to terms with the Minnesota Vikings. But several remain on the market, including six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner, who grew up in the Inland Empire.

Tight end Gerald Everett, a former Rams draft pick who spent last season with the Seattle Seahawks, is joining the Justin Herbert-led Chargers offense.

Snead said that he and coach Sean McVay and staff members evaluate accomplished players such as Wagner, Smith and others to determine “his super powers” and how a player’s skill set might fit.

“It may be a little different than what we’re used to, and now we sit and analyze, ‘What if we bring that player on?’ ” Snead said. “What you don’t want to do is bring the player on and ‘OK, you go right into this mold of what we did last year.’

“We now have to look at what that player does best. ... Why is his name recognizable, and does that skill set fit us? So, that’s what we’re consistently doing throughout this process.”