The contract that the Los Angeles Rams gave Robert Woods has been widely panned, but the deal is much more favorable than it would appear.
This has to be a hard season for Los Angeles Rams fans to swallow. After mortgaging part of their future to draft Jared Goff one year ago, they finished with the fifth worst record in the NFL, but don’t get the benefit of picking No. 5 overall in the 2017 NFL Draft. Instead, that pick belongs to the Tennessee Titans and they’re left waiting until the second round before they make their first selection.
Even still, they went into NFL free agency with the intention of signing talent that would both help Goff and help the team as a whole progress. Signing both veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth and pass-catching running back Lance Dunbar will aid the offense. Meanwhile, players like Kayvon Webster and Connor Barwin will bolster the defense under new coordinator Wade Phillips.
However, one signing for the Rams that has come under a great deal of scrutiny is that of wide receiver Robert Woods. Early in the free agency period, LA inked the former Buffalo Bill to a five-year, $34 million contract. Through his first four seasons in the league, everyone was waiting on him to breakout. However, the USC Trojans product never did so.
Woods totaled a meager 203 catches for 2,451 yards over the course of four seasons. Even more to his detriment, the wideout only totaled 12 catches in 57 games played. Buffalo may not have had a high-octane offense, but that’s not the type of production that normally warrants the type of contract he received.
Subsequently, there has been vocal opposition to the deal. Most recently, ESPN’s Mike Sando included the deal among the worst deals of the offseason. However, Sando and all of those panning the Robert Woods contract are missing something.
It’d be easy to say that the contract is actually a good deal because of Woods’ potential. And yes, that’s part of the equation. The 6-0, 190-pound receiver has shown flashes of being a potential No. 1 guy. However, what makes the contract actually favorable for the Rams is the fine print of the contract itself and how that couples with who Woods is as a player.
Yes, you might see the five years, the $34 million and the $15 million guaranteed and think that it’s a horrible deal. If he were going to see all of that through, it indeed would be atrocious. However, if Woods moves out west in the 2017 season and stinks it up or fails to improve from what he did with the Bills, the Rams truthfully aren’t on the hook for as much as you’d think.
According to Spotrac, the Rams have an out in Woods’ contract after the 2017 season. So if Woods were to go out and not move the needle for the offense and continue to be an average NFL wide receiver, they can get out of it without any serious repercussions. They’ll incur $3 million of dead cap for the 2018 season, but nothing beyond that.
For a team in the situation of the Rams, that’s exactly the type of deal that they need to be under with a player like Woods. Obviously they can make a one-year assessment on him to see if he’s actually a piece they’d like to build and move forward with. If not, $3 million on the books for a rebuilding team really isn’t substantial. But if he does take a step forward, they’re not paying him a great deal.
Many times in the NFL, teams in similar situations hand out similar contracts to players akin to Woods and his potential and previous production. However, it’s not often that the contract has this type of one-year out. That’s an ace-in-the-hole for the Rams. And with that coupled into their overall offseason haul, they’re doing just fine in starting to build around Goff.