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Rams wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. claims he was ‘very, very, very’ close to joining the Patriots in November

Related: Sunday Patriots Notes: Improving at wide receiver New England’s top offseason priority

Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs Los Angeles Rams, 2022 NFC Divisional Playoffs Set Number: X163913 TK1

When it became clear that the Cleveland Browns and Odell Beckham Jr. had reached the end of their road together last November, the star wide receiver was linked to multiple potential landing spots. Among those were the receiver-needy New England Patriots.

Beckham Jr. eventually ended up joining the Los Angeles Rams, but it appears there might actually have been some fire to all the Patriots-related smoke. As the 29-year-old claimed he was quite close to signing in New England.

“Very,” he said. “Very, very, very.”

At least from Beckham Jr’s perspective, the circumstances prevented the two sides from getting a deal done. According to the Pro Bowl wideout, the Patriots’ quarterback situation played a major role in this: had long-time starter Tom Brady still been with the club instead of rookie Mac Jones, Beckham Jr. would have seen New England as a better fit,

“I don’t think I joked with [Patriots head coach Bill Belichick] on the phone, but I was like, ‘You know, if this was three years ago, it would have been ideal.’ Because Tom is one of my favorites,” Beckham Jr. said during Super Bowl media night on Monday.

“I posted a video a long time [ago] of just the passion and the fire that Tom has, and then there’s a bunch of clips cutting to me doing similar things. Mine gets misconstrued for something else, and his is something else, and it’s just I actually love football that much that I’ll punch a water cooler. Like, I care that much for this game. I try to explain this to people: I hate losing, I care that much for this game.”

After his release from the Brown, Beckham Jr. was in touch with multiple teams. The Patriots were among them, as were the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. In the end, he joined the Rams on a one-year, $2 million contract.

Since his arrival in Los Angeles, the former first-round draft pick has appeared in 11 combined games. Catching 46 passes for 541 yards and six touchdowns, he has played a prominent role in helping the team reach the Super Bowl. Needless to say that Beckham Jr. can feel good about his decision to sign with the Rams rather than the Patriots.

Nonetheless, he did appreciate the team’s interest in him.

“For a guy, a coach like Bill Belichick, who I’ve admired for years and I’ve seen and always was like, ‘Man, one day I’m going to play for Bill Belichick.’ — for him to call me, to be able to just sit down on the phone with him and talk football, what more could you ask for? I was very close. That’s one of the teams that was in there, but I just, I felt like this was home, that this was right.”

The Rams will play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI. The Patriots did reach the playoffs after not acquiring Beckham Jr. but were eliminated in the wild card round.