We don’t talk much about NFL Executive of the Year, but it is no less an award that carries the same amount of meaning as MVP or Defensive Rookie of the Year. It’s hardware and a resume check. But that doesn’t stop people from spending countless hours debating those awards and many others that go to players.
Players who would not be in the positions that they are in right now without general managers. They have an award too and it wouldn’t be right to debate who the best among them are without discussing Les Snead.
My take?— Peter Schrager (@PSchrags) January 5, 2022
Aaron Rodgers is the MVP and GM Brian Gutekunst is the Executive of the Year. @gmfb
Setting aside everything that Snead has done for the Los Angeles Rams prior to 2021, such as drafting Aaron Donald and trading for Jalen Ramsey, consider what he needed to accomplish this year, how he was limited in what he could do, and where the team is today.
- Upgrade the Rams’ quarterback position
- Upgrade the wide receiver position
- Upgrade the interior of the offensive line
- Hold the number one defense together as best you can following departure of defensive coordinator Brandon Staley
- Manage the salary cap knowing that the Rams couldn’t afford many outgoing free agents
- Replace John Johnson and Troy Hill in the secondary
- Replace Michael Brockers and Morgan Fox on the defensive line
- Replace Josh Reynolds, upgrade number three receiver
- Upgrade the inside linebacker position
- Replace Samson Ebukam, upgrade the outside linebacker position
- Replace or re-sign Leonard Floyd
- Replace right-hand man Brad Holmes after he was hired by Lions as GM
- Replace an injured Cam Akers at running back after the draft already happened
- Improve 10-6 record
- Win NFC West
- No 2021 first round pick
- Limited cap space
- $24.7 million dead money cap hit if you trade or release Jared Goff
- Overcome losses of Cam Akers, Robert Woods to injury
- Trade for Matthew Stafford
- Re-sign Leonard Floyd
- Re-sign Matt Gay
- Draft Ernest Jones
- Trade for Sony Michel (preseason)
- Trade for Von Miller
- Trade Kenny Young
- Sign Odell Beckham, Jr
- 12-4 record going into final week
- NFC West division title
- Opportunity to hold the NFC’s number two seed
- Offense improved 4 points per game
- Defense remains 7th in points per drive allowed
- With Stafford, passing offense gained 18 touchdowns, 1.0 yards per attempt, and Cooper Kupp is challenging for WR “Triple Crown”
- Snead draft picks and acquisitions from past beginning to stand out in 2021 includes Brian Allen, Van Jefferson, Greg Gaines, Austin Corbett, and Justin Hollins
This is obviously not a complete list and omissions of moves like Tutu Atwell or DeSean Jackson are simply because award resumes never ask for the “misses”. What matters is that Les Snead was tasked with a mission to win the division in 2021 and he’d have to do it without a first round pick and with a dire need to upgrade the quarterback position despite owing a massive amount of money to Goff.
There was really only one quarterback who made sense and Snead somehow managed to bring Stafford to Los Angeles. Even that move would have only gone so far if not for Snead’s ability to add players like Michel and OBJ, and while it would have been fair to criticize him if the Rams were as bad as the Seahawks, this team is only one Lambeau loss away from having the best record in the NFL.
If you think the LA Rams seemed close to being the NFL’s best team at the end of last season, you are mistaken. Snead could not rest on his laurels just because the Rams were in the Super Bowl two seasons prior. To get the Rams here took perhaps the most effort of any GM in 2021 and that’s why I do think this award is worth the debate too.