Odell Beckham Jr. may return punts in Los Angeles Rams’ MNF debut, sources say

November 14, 2021

The Los Angeles Rams have discussed using Odell Beckham Jr. as an occasional kick returner Monday night as part of a package of plays designed for the star wide receiver, sources told ESPN.

Beckham, who joined Los Angeles in an incentive-laden deal last Thursday, is expected to make his Rams debut Monday night against the division’s rival 49ers, sources told ESPN.

Beckham was used as a punt returner early in his career with the Giants, but has only returned one punt since 2019 in his more than two seasons with the Browns.

Star catcher Cooper Kupp has at times been the Rams’ “safe” punt returner, throwing punts deep within his own territory. Beckham could be used there, as well as elsewhere, and Monday night will be the first look at whether the Rams decide to implement the idea.

The possibility of returning punts was one of the ideas the Rams have pondered since signing Beckham to a one-year, $ 4.5 million deal that weighs heavily on team-driven postseason incentives.

The Rams joined the free agent bid for Beckham last Tuesday after he approved waivers after being released by the Browns. Sources tell ESPN that the Rams felt they had a great opportunity to sign Beckham after head coach Sean McVay had a long and direct conversation with the receiver about how they would use him in Los Angeles.

Beckham made it clear that he had three things he was looking for: a good coach, a good quarterback and a team that would win this season.

The Packers, Chiefs, Saints and Seahawks showed varying levels of interest, but the Rams met all the criteria and could also offer Beckham something that no other franchise could offer: Los Angeles as a location.

From there, the conversation between McVay and Beckham was the first of several discussions the three-time Pro Bowler would have with members of the Rams organization over the next two days. He also spoke with his friends Von Miller and Jalen Ramsey, with each player presenting the merits of playing in Los Angeles to Beckham.

Beckham and the Rams ultimately agreed to a deal that includes the following details:

• A base salary of $ 750,000 for the remainder of this season.

• A $ 500,000 signing bonus.

• A $ 500,000 incentive if the Rams win a wild card game or have a layoff, with Beckham on the team’s active roster and playing at least one play.

• A $ 750,000 incentive if the Rams win a divisional playoff game and Beckham is active and plays at least one play in the game.

• A $ 750,000 incentive if the Rams win the NFC Championship Game and Beckham is active and plays at least one play in the game.

• A $ 500,000 incentive for being on the Super Bowl list and another $ 500,000 if the Rams win the Super Bowl.

One of the only robberies, according to sources, occurred when teams discussed which jersey number Beckham would wear. Beckham talked about using the numbers 1, 3 and 13, but there were problems with each one.

Number one was the jersey worn by former Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who was resigned earlier this month. The number 3 was also attractive to Beckham, but the number belongs to injured Rams running back Cam Akers for next season, and Beckham and the Rams would like their relationship to go beyond this year.

Rams backup quarterback John Wolford wears No. 13 currently, so the Rams decided to have Beckham wear No. 3 for the remainder of this season, with the idea that he could trade to No. 13 in 2022 if he re-signs with Los Angeles.

The Rams plan to try to re-sign both Beckham and Miller, who is in the final year of his contract, in the offseason, sources told ESPN.

Although they added Beckham and Miller to make a Super Bowl run this season, the Rams see their relationships with both players could last beyond 2021, according to sources. Los Angeles would also receive compensatory draft picks if either player leaves free agency.