The Rams face a long list of impending financial decisions with cornerback Jalen Ramsey, receivers Cooper Kupp and Josh Reynolds, tight end Gerald Everett and safety John Johnson all entering the final year of their rookie contracts.
Then there’s receiver Robert Woods, in the second-to-last year of a contract that has made him one of the NFL's best bargains the last three seasons.
Woods caught 90 passes last season and 86 in 2018, eclipsing 1,000 yards receiving in both. The $8.2-million salary-cap number he carries this season is once again woefully shy of NFL receivers with similar, and in many cases, lesser production.
Asked Thursday about his contract situation, Woods said “I feel good” and that he was “in a little bit of talks early on” with the team that signed him to a five-year, $34-million deal in 2017.
“Really just coming out here showing them that I’ve been working on my game and pick up where I left off,” Woods said during a videoconference with reporters. “Come in looking built, looking yoked, feel fast and ready to get paid, for sure.”
Last September, the Rams modified Woods' contract, but it still left him comparatively underpaid, especially for a team that in 2018 gave receiver Brandin Cooks an $81-million deal that included $50 million in guarantees.
In March, the Rams traded Cooks to the Houston Texans in a cost-cutting move.
That leaves Woods, Kupp and Reynolds as projected starters for a team attempting to rebound from last season’s 9-7 finish and playoff absence. The Rams selected receiver Van Jefferson in the second round of the draft.
Woods, an All-American at USC, has played seven NFL seasons, four with the Buffalo Bills. At 28, he is only 16 months older than Kupp, who came back from 2018 knee surgery and caught a team-best 94 passes for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The two receivers are key components for an offense that must adapt to the departure of running back Todd Gurley, who was released and then signed by the Atlanta Falcons.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff said Woods has shown an “accelerated level “of performance as his career has progressed.
“He's just such a friendly target, I think that's the best way to describe him,” Goff said. “It's easy to throw to him.
“A lot of guys, it's not a knock on some guys, but some guys are not easy to throw to. They’re either too fast, or too small, or whatever. Robert’s just kind of got that good feel about him. You'll watch him this year and the way he's able to speed up and slow down to adjust to the football, it's a quarterback's dream.”
Woods grew up in Carson, played at Gardena Serra High and then starred at USC. Asked if he expects to have a new deal with the Rams, Woods said that was the goal.
“You want to go in and get paid for what you're worth — I think everyone feels that way,” he said. “I've been working here for the Rams and want to be here for the rest of my career, keep playing here in L.A., home stadium.
“I want to get the job done and be here long-term."