Woods sees Titans as best chance at back-to-back Super Bowls

Mar 22, 2022, 10:15 PM | Updated: Mar 23, 2022, 1:29 pm
FILE — Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods warms up before an NFL football game against t...

FILE — Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods warms up before an NFL football game against the Houston Texans, Oct. 31, 2021, in Houston. The Tennessee Titans have traded for Woods in a deal sending a sixth-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Los Angeles Rams. (AP Photo/Eric Smith, File)

(AP Photo/Eric Smith, File)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Robert Woods heard from Rams coach Sean McVay shortly after the reigning Super Bowl champs agreed to a deal with Allen Robinson. Given a chance to pick a new team, the receiver nicknamed “Bobby Trees” saw the Tennessee Titans as the best fit in more than one way.

“Winning the Super Bowl and not being able to play and then joining the organization that’s right there, could’ve been there last (season), my goal is to win it back to back,” Woods said Wednesday.

The Titans announced the trade Wednesday, acquiring Woods for a sixth-round pick in the 2023 draft. The deal became final once Tennessee cleared some much-needed space under the salary cap. They also announced they signed back linebacker Dylan Cole to a one-year deal.

Woods became expendable despite signing a four-year, $65 million contract extension with Los Angeles in September 2020.

Rams general manager Les Snead said Tuesday that edge rusher Von Miller going to Buffalo freed up money to sign Robinson. That meant Los Angeles had to part ways with Woods, a beloved leader in the Rams’ locker room and a popular player among fans, especially fellow native Angelenos.

“We wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had since ’17 without Rob,” Snead said. “There are variables involved when you move on from a pillar player like Rob. Cap situation is one, diversity of skill set being another.”

Woods started talking to former teammates including left guard Rodger Saffold, released two weeks ago by the Titans; receiver Josh Reynolds, now in Detroit; and defensive lineman Antwaun Woods. He wanted to know about Tennessee’s culture, locker room and staff, led by AP NFL Coach of the Year Mike Vrabel.

The receiver also liked what he saw from the Titans’ roster, including 2020 AP NFL Offensive Player of the Year Derrick Henry, quarterback Ryan Tannehill and wide receiver A.J. Brown, a Pro Bowler in 2020. Woods is known as a strong blocker in the run game, and the Titans ranked fifth in rushing offense.

“Obviously want to be a physical team. They are that,” Woods said. “You have a physical running back, you have a physical receiver — two of them now — and being able to just set the tone throughout the game. It’s a long season.”

Woods is recovering from a torn left ACL suffered in practice, the first significant injury of his career. The 6-foot, 195-pound receiver says he had a clean tear on Nov. 12 in practice. Asked about a timetable for his return, Woods said he was told not to share that.

“Right on track, getting strong and getting my strength,” Woods said. “And when the team is ready for me to be out there, I’ll be ready to go.”

After spending four seasons in Buffalo, Woods became a two-time captain with the Rams. He was one of four key figures acquired by the Rams in a four-month period in early 2017 that become cornerstones of the team’s five straight winning seasons.

Woods had 367 catches for 4,626 yards and 23 TDs in 68 games with the Rams. He ranked fifth in the NFL since 2017 among wide receivers with 1,992 yards after the catch.

He also ran for 485 yards, and his five rushing touchdowns tied Curtis Samuel for second behind Deebo Samuel (11). Woods joined only Emmanuel Sanders and DeAndre Hopkins with at least 40 catches and 500 yards receiving in each of the last nine seasons. He has played 14 100-yard games.

Woods helps Tennessee replace seven-time Pro Bowl receiver Julio Jones, who was released last week.

This is the Titans’ second move addressing the offense after signing a two-time Pro Bowl tight end in Austin Hooper. Tennessee has guaranteed an estimated $71 million in contracts in free agency in this league year and had an estimated $5.2 million in salary cap space Wednesday, according to OverTheCap.com.

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AP Sports Writer Greg Beacham in Los Angeles contributed to this report.

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Woods sees Titans as best chance at back-to-back Super Bowls