As a media member, you’ll study up to learn about a high-profile NFL player headed to town. It’s more just satisfying the curiosity of working with someone you don’t know than it is about football abilities you’ve already seen.
In other words, what’s he really like?
Reviews can be mixed. Usually they’re good. Occasionally, they’re glowing.
And then there’s wide receiver Robert Woods, about whom this was written by The Athletic’s outstanding Los Angeles Rams beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue: “Woods is a perennial team captain and has been a core leader in the locker room since the Rams signed him in 2017. He helped build the culture that ultimately became so crucial to the Rams’ Super Bowl win.”
There’s more: “The difficult part is that, in losing a player as meaningful as Woods has been to this franchise, to his teammates, coaches, fans and to media, we feel all of it.”
So the Rams hated to see Woods go, huh? He’s a good guy? And a good receiver who’s not quite 30 years old?
The Tennessee Titans acquired all that for … checks notes … a sixth-round draft pick in 2023? Nothing else? All because the Rams signed Allen Robinson and were eager to dump Woods’ salary?
This feels like the kind of trade that may not get much attention when it happens, but come November or December, there’s a chance that we’re all going to look back on it as one of the most important moves of the offseason and think the Titans pulled one over on the Rams and the NFL.
There was a lot more to it, as Woods described when he held court with reporters at the Titans’ facility on Wednesday. Sean McVay told Woods soon after Robinson’s signing that he was going to be traded, but the Rams were giving Woods a say in where he wanted to go.
Such a courtesy, first off, says a lot about how much respect the Rams had for Woods. They went out of their way to do right by him. Even if it’s possible the Rams could have gotten a better trade offer from another team, Woods wanted to play for the Titans. He’s a physical receiver. He understands how well he fits the Titans’ offense.
Gotta love that.
Gotta love a lot about this trade for the Titans.
Love the sixth-round price tag, for sure. Love the nickname (Bobby Trees). Love Woods’ reputed character, leadership and work ethic. Love his reliability and production of him.
From 2018-20, Woods averaged 89 receptions on 132 targets – with Jared Goff throwing to him. For comparison, AJ Brown hasn’t caught more than 70 passes or logged more than 106 targets in any of his three NFL seasons.
You love this simple quote Wednesday: “My job as a receiver is to be open to catch the ball – and I’ll do that.” Woods wasn’t saying it to be cocky. He was saying it because it’s true. Confidence like this has been earned.
After the Titans’ here-today, hurt-tomorrow experience with Julio Jones, you almost wanted to applaud when Woods talked about developing trust with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and that “It’s all about practice. It’s all about timing. You’ve got to be out there on the practice field.”
Love all of it.
Well, except for one thing.
Woods isn’t healthy. He tore his ACL in early November, leaving him sidelined for the Super Bowl run.
The Titans have a type, don’t they? Whether it’s a first-round draft pick or an expensive free agent or a trade for a recovering player like Woods, they are wholly unafraid to invest heavily in ongoing recovery from a serious injury.
While they’ve hit some home runs that way – see Jeffery Simmons – it also makes it hard to blame bad luck when you have a season like 2021 in which the injuries start to run rampant on your roster.
Because those setbacks included first-round cornerback Caleb Farley, who was hurt when the Titans drafted him and still working his way back when he tore up his knee.
Or free-agent signee Bud Dupree, who said he rushed back too quickly from an ACL injury. Left tackle Taylor Lewan struggled, too, in recovering from an ACL injury – the same injury Woods suffered.
That’s enough to give you pause, considering Woods is clearly set up to be the Titans’ No. 2 receiver next season. Yet there is nothing the Titans can do but wait and hope he’s ready to go when the season starts. There is no guarantee that’ll be the case.
For what it’s worth, current signs are encouraging. Woods has told Rams reporters that he hopes to be back in time for training camp, if not June minicamps.
If uncertainty is the lone downside to adding a player of Woods’ caliber in exchange for a sixth-round pick, that’s still a no-brainer of a move.
In an AFC that is getting more talented by the day, it was time for the Titans to make a little noise, too. With tight end Austin Hooper and now Woods, they have.
“They should have been a lot further in the playoffs last year,” Woods said of the Titans. “Let’s get over that hump, and let’s go win this thing.”
Reach Gentry Estes at email@example.com and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes.