Winning has the tendency to cover up a team’s flaws or underlying issues. Once something goes wrong and the winning stops, panic ensues after those glaring flaws have finally been exposed.
When the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI in February 2022, General Manager Les Snead was hailed as a hero by the fanbase. Fast forward to a year later where a decent chunk of the fanbase now wants him gone after Snead traded away Jalen Ramsey for a bag of chips.
The Rams weren't able to get actual assets for Jalen Ramsey, Bobby Wagner, & Leonard Floyd? 2 All Pros playing at a elite level & can't even get a 2nd rounder? A elite pass rusher who just had 9 sacks & couldn't get anything for? Les Snead with terrible asset management— Lemon Pepper Lou (@LVstackiN) March 12, 2023
People keep trying to justify the Rams’ moves, because we got one SB. We went 22 years between Ring 1 and 2, the moves Les Snead makes will guarantee that we don’t get another ring for another 22 years. Trading top talent for nothing is never acceptable.— Kelvin Morales (@oyetuconlacara) March 12, 2023
I hope one day we can all come to terms with the fact that Les Snead is not really a good GM and got massively lucky a few years ago when building that SB roster. The tear down of that team right now is embarrassing https://t.co/PzbfztiJU6— Adam (@blencka) March 12, 2023
The Ramsey trade makes sense. Frankly, Les Snead spent too much money on skill positions last year and disregarded the rest of the roster which is where the Rams got buried last year (O Line & D Line primarily)— slam dunkerton (@lametweetzzz) March 12, 2023
The return package is what doesn’t make sense here
Fans have a right to feel upset over the lack of quality picks in the Ramsey trade. Most of them figured the Rams would get at least a first or second-rounder in return instead of a third-rounder and a tight end who has one career reception for eight yards. This is far from the only time Les Snead has gotten next to nothing in return for an elite player.
The #Rams have released Todd Gurley. Arguably the biggest failure in the Les Snead / Sean McVay era. To not receive any compensation for someone that was just the best player at his position two years ago is inexcusable.— DOWNTOWN RAMS [DTR] (@DowntownRams) March 19, 2020
Todd Gurley was known to have lingering knee problems and was still given a lucrative deal. Gurley signed his extension prior to the 2018 season and only lasted another year before LA cut him loose. At the time, no team in their right mind would’ve been willing to trade for a declining running back on a bloated contract but that’s not the point I’m trying to make here.
What needs to be said is that Les Snead needs to be held accountable for his poor mistakes over the years. I will make it very clear that I don’t believe Snead should be fired or even placed on the hot seat...at least not yet. Fans clamoring for him to lose his job over the Ramsey trade are overreacting. Les rightfully deserves all the heat coming his way for that debacle. Again, no one should’ve been surprised over the lowball return based on the GM’s history.
Les Snead and the #Rams turned Leonard Floyd, Todd Gurley, Bobby Wagner, Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib, Robert Quinn & Robert Woods into...— JAKE ELLENBOGEN (@JKBOGEN) March 10, 2023
Kenny Young, 4th, 5th, 2 6th's and a 3-year later 7th round pick
That “F them picks” mentality shouldn’t have f’ed the entire team up in the long haul yet here are. LA has an unflattering habit of releasing or trading players not long after signing weighty contracts that Snead himself handed out.
Consider the last 3 big money extension Les Snead and the #Rams gave to players they invested at least a 1st round pick on to get.— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) January 31, 2021
*Jared Goff - $134 million
*Brandin Cooks - $80 million
*Todd Gurley - $60 million
All off the team now, all blew up in their faces.
Gurley I had already discussed. Jared Goff and Brandin Cooks were both gone within two years. In no way did the transactions “blow up in their faces” as Dov alludes to. During those seasons, LA finished with winning records. Handing out monster deals and draft picks like Halloween candy only became a problem once the Rams stumbled to 5-12 record after winning a Lombardi.
Snead hasn’t been a fast learner as he continues to rush into huge investments. Maybe it’s just the armchair GM in me but isn’t it better to spread the wealth rather than commit large wads of cash to your top five players? Following the playoff run in ‘21, Les made the right call to re-sign Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. Although everyone knows spending sprees are fun until the bills are due.
It’s the Matthew Stafford contract that’s giving me pause as his injury history from his final seasons with Detroit is coming back to bite him and the team severely. If Stafford is unable to put the injuries behind him, LA is stuck with his bloated deal with no clear option behind him now that Baker Mayfield is in Tampa.
Matthew Stafford's contract for an acquiring team:— Wendell Ferreira (@wendellfp) March 9, 2023
There's an option bonus in 2023 (26M), so his cap hit in 2023 could be reduced to 8M, and it would add 6.5M in cap hit for each of the next three years.
Some of the naysayers have wanted Les Snead pushed out the door even while the team was a top NFC contender. Yes, even before the team was able to win the Big Game. His resume pre-McVay isn’t very flattering which has forced those talking heads to believe Snead has been a fraud the entire time and got lucky when he finally caught lightning in a bottle.
Keep this in mind. Before McVay in 5 seasons (12’-16’) GM Rams Les Snead’s results.— RAMZILLA (@elitster) January 28, 2021
42 Off/Def draft picks. 2/42 (4%) went to Pro Bowl.
Signed 23 Off/Def free agents. 0/23 (0%) went to Pro Bowl.
Blame the entire meal on Fisher?
Big misses/bad contracts?
Pray not again!
Let’s be serious. Les Snead should be in the hot-seat. He throws big $$ contracts at guys who are gone a year after the deal is made. He’s hamstringing the Rams. 1st Rd picks are crapshoots especially in the bottom 3rd of round 1. Rams need to win SB within next 2 yrs. #RamsHouse— Eric Geller (@ericsgeller) January 31, 2021
I’m not out to slander the very guy who drafted Donald and Kupp and brought a Super Bowl back to the Rams. Les has earned the chance to remodel the team how he wants. Winning a title will give anyone leeway. However, there will come a day when that honeymoon period wears off.
In the NFL, no one cares how many rings someone has won in the past if they’re unable to produce in the present. Pretty soon, that Super Bowl win over the Bengals will be years in the rearview mirror. What kind of shape will the Rams be in when the glory days have pasted them by?
Snead’s reckless approach to team building deserves praise but it won’t be the way of the future in the NFL. Should the Rams continue their downward spiral, opposing teams will use them as an example of the cost of being “all-in”. Miami is trending down that path with the acquisition of Ramsey and others the last couple offseasons. While their Russell Wilson story isn’t complete, Denver is seeing the flaws in overcommitting to a star early before watching their play fall off a cliff. Most teams around the league don’t have nerves of steel like Les Snead and the Rams have.
The LA GM’s fearless mentality is his greatest strength and quite possibly his greatest weakness as well. Four days leading up to the Rams trading for Jalen Ramsey in 2019, Snead had this to say about his roster construction practices:
“We only live once, so don’t live your life scared,” Snead told Yahoo Sports. “…Any time you make a move, you do try to have protocols in place that can help you make sound decisions. But you’re not playing for the tie. You’re trying to go win.”
Repeatedly going for the win has cost his team in the long run. Based on how the Rams are positioned now will send Les straight to the hot seat if LA suffers a second-straight down year. Playing for the tie is never sexy but sometimes it’s smarter to play things a tad more cautiously. Likely easier to cut losses there than on the unemployment line.