Six years ago on the back of two trades in the 2012 NFL Draft headlined by a megadeal to ship the #2 overall pick to the Washington Second Overall Pick Traders to select Robert Griffin III, the St. Louis Rams began a roster purge under new Head Coach Jeff Fisher.
In just two offseasons, the entire offense was cleaned out save for QB Sam Bradford, TE Lance Kendricks and OL Rodger Saffold. Same held for the defense with the defensive line and MLB James Laurinaitis the only holdovers. System fits and talent upgrades were prioritized over continuity.
Here we go again.
Six years on and 1,800 miles westward, the Los Angeles Rams are undergoing the same overhaul under new Head Coach Sean McVay. Having rebuilt most of the offensive side of the depth chart last year, the Rams are currently undergoing a massive roster shift on the defensive side. Consider the starting defensive players either headed into free agency or already traded:
- CB Trumaine Johnson: Headed into FA after two successive tags
- CB Nickell Robey-Coleman: Played well on an inexpensive one-year rental
- OLB Connor Barwin: Played not as well on an inexpensive one-year rental
- OLB Robert Quinn: Traded to the Miami Dolphins
- ILB Alec Ogletree: Traded to the New York Giants
That the Rams were able to stave off S Lamarcus Joyner by using a tag was perhaps more about the list above moreso than any contractual holdups with Joyner alone. Because in the end, it’s less about any referendum on the players themselves. The free agent market isn’t going to offer a fair replacement for Quinn on talent terms. For all his technical flaws, Ogletree’s contract extension was met by many (though certainly not all) with praise and a belief that there was a faith in his future embedded in the deal on behalf of the coaching staff. Yeah, no.
This isn’t a micro issue. It’s macro. The magnitude of the personnel overhaul under the last two coaching regimes has been large because both are operating from positions of strength. The difference? Fisher’s position of strength was built on upon the wasteland the team was coming out of from 2007-11 putting up the worst five-year run of any team in NFL history. McVay’s position of strength is built on the talent on the roster and what he was able to get out of it in Year 1.
The outcome’s the same, though. The sacred cows of the previous regime are sacred no longer. Job security is illusory.
Nobody’s safe. Good luck figuring out what comes next...