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Odell Beckham says he's willing to sacrifice salary to stay with Rams: 'It feels like a home'

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- Odell Beckham found a perfect fit with the Los Angeles Rams. He's understandably not in a hurry to leave them following Super Bowl LVI.

After receiving his wish by being released by Cleveland and eventually signing a one-year deal with the Rams, Beckham is headed toward free agency in March. He's completed quite a reclamation of his reputation as a playmaker, only getting stronger as the Rams moved deeper into the postseason, and he's going to draw plenty of interest on the open market.

That is, if he gets to the open market.

The all-in Rams don't exactly have a ton of cap space to spend lavishly in 2022, currently sitting at $13.59 million over the limit, per Over The Cap. That means whatever number Beckham will fetch elsewhere probably won't be conducive for the Rams to keep him -- but it might not be about dollars.

Beckham provided a quick response when asked Friday if he'd sacrifice financially to improve his chances of returning to the Rams in the offseason.

"Yeah, of course," Beckham said with a chuckle and a smile. "Of course. I just really want to focus on winning this game because I feel like winning this game, everything else is gonna handle the rest. But this place, man, it feels good in my heart. It feels like a home."

It doesn't take long to see Beckham has changed for the better with the Rams, and it's not just about what's happened on the field. The often stoic, occasionally frustrated Beckham of old appears thousands of miles away, and in his place is a receiver who is happier than ever.

"Everybody has told me that," Beckham said Friday. "Even watching me play, they're like, 'Great to see you win and catch passes and all that, but I see you having fun, I see that smile on your face, the joy that's in your heart.' That means everything to me because once you're playing with that joy in your heart, man, only good things can happen."

After spending his career constantly in the spotlight, Beckham seems to finally be comfortable, and the results are showing on the field. Beckham caught five touchdowns in eight regular-season games with the Rams and has become a crucial second option opposite Cooper Kupp for quarterback Matthew Stafford, racking up 19 catches for 236 yards and one touchdown in the postseason.

Instead of being routinely asked why he was struggling to produce at a star level, Beckham doesn't have to be the star -- and he's returned to performing like a premier player.

Beckham has said throughout the week his latest stop in his NFL journey has helped him complete a prolonged process of accepting he cannot control the opinions of others. Since he made one legendary play in prime time -- a 2014 reception he's dubbed "The Catch" -- Beckham has been one of the most prominent players in professional sports around the globe, whether he likes it or not. It took him getting traded from the largest media market in the country to Cleveland, suffering a significant knee injury and never quite getting back on track, forcing his way out of town and finally landing with a Super Bowl contender to realize the public opinion of him does not matter.

His personal situation -- and his happiness -- are what's most important. With the Rams, he's finally "more comfortable being myself, and being able to be here and just play football."

"When I was in New York, I always knew it and I said it to myself and I did it, and at times it would get lost in translation because you would feel like 'I gotta play this role to someone else, I gotta not do this,'" Beckham explained. "It's too much walking on eggshells. As time went on, boom, you had that epiphany, like man, not everyone's gonna like you. Not everyone's gonna be happy with the decision you made. You can't please everyone. And once you realize that, things get a little lighter. Feels like a little weight is off your back."

As a soon-to-be father, Beckham's priorities have shifted. The same might end up being true when it comes to deciding where he'll play in 2022 and beyond.

But first, his Rams have a Super Bowl to attempt to win. Beckham will live out his dream at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, the home of the Rams and perhaps Beckham's home beyond this season, too.

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