Even though the Los Angeles Rams have only added one new player during free agency so far -- wide receiver Allen Robinson on a three-year, $46.5 million deal -- the organization has undoubtedly left its mark on the 2022 offseason.
In fact, the Rams may have actually changed the landscape of NFL offseasons for the foreseeable future, now that head coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead’s way of doing business has paid off with a Super Bowl victory.
During their tenure together McVay and Snead -- here on out to be referenced as McSnead to represent their symbiotic union -- have taken the old adage of “build your team through the draft” and put their own unique spin on it.
The duo has traded their first-round picks away like it was in their respective contracts to do so, and at this point, it probably should be. McVay has never been in charge of a day one selection. The last time LA drafted in the first-round was six years ago, with Snead and then head coach Jeff Fisher selecting former Rams quarterback Jared Goff with the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft.
As of today, only 75% of NFL teams do have a 1st round pick in the upcoming draft. The lowest percentage since at least 1980, per @pfref.— Sebastian (@mrcaseb) March 24, 2022
(My data goes back to 1980 only) pic.twitter.com/0UCW25tiUO
Since then, Los Angeles has traded away their first round picks and the potential that comes with those selections for proven commodities, such as All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey and quarterback Matthew Stafford.
2016: Used to draft Goff
2017: Included in the package traded away for the pick used to draft Goff
2018: Traded for wide receiver Brandin Cooks
2019: Traded out of the first round
2020: Traded for Ramsey
2021: Traded for Ramsey
2022: Traded for Stafford
2023: Traded for Stafford
Goff, and each of the players that were swapped for Los Angeles’ day one selections were integral parts of getting their respective teams to the Super Bowl. There has been a clear method to the madness, as this strategy only works because the Rams consistently hit on day two and day three selections.
With the NFL being quite the copycat league, general managers across the board are now using their first round picks to trade for franchise altering players, such as Russell Wilson to the Denver Broncos, Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders, Deshaun Watson to the Cleveland Browns, and Tyreek Hill to the Miami Dolphins. The Los Angeles Chargers also traded for Khalil Mack using second and sixth round picks to bring the edge rusher back to the now loaded AFC West.
The copying hasn’t stopped there. Even opposing fan bases are echoing -- if not downright stealing -- the “fuck them picks” mantra, made popular by Holden Cantor.
The movement became the battle cry of the 2021 Super Bowl season, with several Rams, including Snead riding the wave.
I blame #Rams Les Snead for this entire offseason. pic.twitter.com/T8dXQG9gX9— Charles Robinson (@CharlesRobinson) March 23, 2022
At least Hill acknowledged the team who started it.
Tyreek is on to the Les Snead school of draft picks. pic.twitter.com/WOBEr2od6u— theScore (@theScore) March 24, 2022
Some people like to give the Tampa Bay Buccaneers credit for being the pioneers of this strategy. While they were trailblazers in becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl on their home field, they did not get a perennial pillar for their franchise through trades, as quarterback Tom Brady was scooped up as a free agent.
This is the McSnead blueprint. This is the Rams’ way. And this is just the beginning of teams trying, and likely failing. Enjoy, as the Rams continue to pave the way, as other teams just walk on the path that was already made clear before them.