I do not want to be a voice of “doom and gloom” for the Los Angeles Rams because I do not think that either -ooms warrant a place in discussing a team that is 7-4 with arguably the best defense in the NFL.
How can you not have some optimism left over for the Rams when you consider that every team in the NFC East is a legitimate tragedy of football proportions, the Lions, Bears, Vikings, Falcons, Panthers and 49ers all have losing records in the conference, and Aaron Donald has a longstanding employment agreement with the franchise?
The Rams are one game behind the Seattle Seahawks in the division, a team that they beat all of 16 days ago, and should they win two of their next three games (against the Cardinals, Patriots and winless Jets), Sean McVay will have posted a winning record in all four of his seasons at the helm; Jeff Fisher had zero winning seasons in five attempts and the last Rams coach to post four winning campaigns was John Robinson.
It’s been 35 years since the franchise has posted four straight winning seasons and McVay is almost certain to hit that mark with his third trip to the postseason to follow.
So I have no overtures for doom and gloom, but I am willing to concede “concern and some turns” if the Rams have a quick playoff exit with another challenging offseason ahead. A self-assigned challenge that follows a few questionable extensions by general manager Les Snead.
There will be an $8.4 million dead money cap hit in 2021 because of Todd Gurley. The Rams will also be paying Jared Goff’s $34.6 million cap hit regardless of whether or not he turns around from his recent disappointing performances. There will be at least $5.8 million on the books for 39-year-old Andrew Whitworth, even if he retires after his hopeful return this season from a torn MCL. Another $3.3 million will go to Leonard Floyd, who will be a free agent they are unlikely to re-sign.
And because of a consistent decision to trade picks for players, as well as however you want to evaluate Snead’s draft day choices, the last Pro Bowl player selected by the Rams was Goff and fourth round returner Pharoh Cooper in 2016. Prior to that, Snead’s only Pro Bowl player in 2015 was Gurley and in 2014 it was Aaron Donald, whom they selected after picking Greg Robinson.
Even considering how long it’s been since LA picked in the first round, they selected Taylor Rapp over DK Metcalf and Darrell Henderson over Terry McLaurin a year before they ended up trading Brandin Cooks (whose signing obviously made it unlikely that the Rams would pick a receiver) and drafting Van Jefferson, who has to live up to standing out in another loaded class of wideouts.
So why not doom and gloom? Because LA’s salary cap issues and lack of first round picks in 2020 and 2021 come via the fact that players like Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Johnny Hekker and Whitworth man the roster, while young players like Jordan Fuller, Cam Akers, Jefferson, Terrell Lewis, Terrell Burgess, Austin Corbett, and Micah Kiser provide hope that other positions will be filled internally with quality-to-exceptional talents.
I talk a bit about Les Snead’s future and Jared Goff’s woes in this week’s Pod-TST.