Since Sean McVay was hired as head coach in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams have been one of the more exciting teams to follow across the entire NFL, in no small thanks to general manager Les Snead being unafraid to make any move if he feels it will help push the roster over the hump. The deep pockets of owner Stan Kroenke allows the duo to be bold and move quickly, and together Snead and McVay have mortgaged future draft picks for star players that can produce at a high level right now.
But the careers of those stars have a shelf life, and some, including McVay, are fast approaching the end of that line.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford will be 35 years old for the 2023 season. Aaron Donald, similar to McVay, flirted with retirement after winning Super Bowl LVI and likely wouldn’t return to a team that isn’t ready to contend. Bobby Wagner played as well as any member of the Rams this past season, but he soon turns 33 and already has some diminished physical skills. Cooper Kupp is in the ballpark of age 30, which a notorious mark for when receiving production begins to nose dive. Jalen Ramsey will be 29 for next season, but even still he’s probably not at the stage of his career when he’d be willing to go through a rebuild.
The fate of all these players and their head coach are intertwined. If you can’t have all of them, you almost shouldn’t have any of them.
And those are the high stakes that hang on McVay’s decision whether he returns to the team or takes a break from the coaching profession.
No McVay probably means no Donald. If you don’t have the two most important building blocks of your franchise, is it even worth wasting the final years of other star players when you aren’t realistically a Super Bowl contender?
Stafford, Donald, and Kupp were all shut down prematurely last season and weren’t able to give their best shot at another championship. McVay’s historically prolific offense was hamstrung by a never-ending string of injuries along the offensive line and elsewhere, his scheme looked like a shell of its former self.
These are some of the greatest competitors in the world, and I’m not sure this group can stomach going out without giving it all they’ve got.
The identify of the Rams as we know them, this current iteration of the franchise, will be short lived, but we know they can play as well as anyone when at full strength. This group is running out of chances, and they know it. They will wonder “what could have been” for the rest of their lives if they don’t compete for each other one more time.
That’s why it’s all shaping up for one final run in 2023. If McVay decides to run it back.