Following a painfully disappointing “run it back” campaign for the Los Angeles Rams, there is plenty of work to be done this offseason. Not all hope is lost with LA attempting a return to contention.
It’s natural for those around the NFL to be cautious about the Rams. They’re coming off an injury-plagued 5-12 season yet are just a year removed from winning the Super Bowl. Clearly this past year has exploited the glaring holes in this roster. With a little creativity and responsible financial management, LA can fix them. Problem is, the media doesn’t see it this way.
Nate Davis from USA Today took a look at six teams in danger of crippling setbacks this offseason. Not surprisingly, the Rams were one of the six and this is what Davis had to say:
“That 5-12 record was the worst ever posted by a defending Super Bowl champion, but at least it netted LA the draft’s sixth pick. What? That belongs to the Detroit Lions? Welp. And, wait, what? They may have to consider trading a superstar like six-time Pro Bowl CB Jalen Ramsey to get the salary cap in order? Welp. Better hope DL Aaron Donald, QB Matthew Stafford and WR Cooper Kupp return better than ever from injury-curtailed 2022 seasons and that a highly permissive offensive line finds a way to heal itself – almost certainly without the benefit of a major free agent or rookie infusion.”
The quarterback situation hasn’t garnered much faith either with the Rams urged to search for a replacement under center. According to Tyler Greenawalt of Yahoo Sports, Matthew Stafford and company have question marks which might come back to haunt the franchise in the long run:
“The Rams’ quarterback situation is a low-key huge question mark after a disastrous 2022 season. Matthew Stafford looked awful before his season-ending injury, and his -0.044 EPA/play was among the worst in the league. Stafford isn’t going anywhere and the Rams should be better in 2023 with a healthier squad, but Los Angeles might need to look at other options sooner rather than later.”
Okay this one I understand. LA is in dire need of an upgrade behind Stafford. What?! John Wolford and Bryce Perkins aren’t reliable backup options? Imagine that. If the Rams cut bait with one or both of those jokers and signs a veteran QB, I’ll feel more confident about the position if Matt is forced to miss time.
What I don’t understand is that while the Rams aren’t in an ideal spot this offseason, there are several teams across the league that have it much worse. A few of them even reside in the NFC:
But the Rams are the only team people think of when the term "Cap Hell" is tossed around. https://t.co/QbGRXc7Jif— RamsRegeared (@_RamsRegeared) February 23, 2023
There are currently 14 teams over the 2023 Salary Cap. The most who are over:— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) February 11, 2023
Teams have until March 15 to get back under.
Tampa Bay is likely rebuilding. New Orleans should be. It’s anyone’s guess what the hell Green Bay does. Aaron Rodgers has emerged from the darkness and has seen his shadow. Six more weeks of BS for the Packers is likely. LA is probably in a better position than any of those squads as they aren’t engulfed in a cloud of uncertainty.
Most notable stars from the Super Bowl team are expected to return amidst season-ending injuries or a dip in play. The only real mystery is whether the Rams will cut or trade Jalen Ramsey. No one should expect a definite answer on that anytime soon.
Given this is a team full of title hopes despite a rough year means there is no time to waste. Players like Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and Ramsey are in their primes and have a lot of juice left. Restructuring their deals is a realistic scenario which all of them should be open to. Here are the top salary cap hits for the Rams:
“Wide receiver Cooper Kupp ($27.8 million), defensive tackle Aaron Donald ($26 million), cornerback Jalen Ramsey ($25.2 million), edge rusher Leonard Floyd ($22 million) and quarterback Matthew Stafford ($20 million)” per Jay Paris of Forbes
Maybe it’s just me but I fully expect LA to give Floyd the boot. He didn’t get going until the second half and it might end up being too little too late for him. Either way, there are lots of options for the Rams to consider in their quest to return to the postseason.
There’s only so much for the Rams to do with their top-heavy roster. An unwillingness to build up their depth will create another disaster like last season. I guarantee no one wants a return to the darkest timeline.
The media acts like LA sold their souls for a ring and the decline was evident. I would argue the opposite even if the start of ‘22 proven otherwise even with all the stars aligned. Probably the most dangerous thing anyone can do is overlook the Rams.
In an uncertain conference, LA should be one of the most certain locks given their resume. Assuming injuries don’t derail another campaign. Once this team gets their act together, the NFL will be sorry.