It is well-documented by now that the Los Angeles Rams have opted to do nothing in free agency and head coach Sean McVay’s message to fans has been to trust the process. Normally that would be fine because it’s not unusual for teams to step back and rebuild when salary cap hell and a string of bad draft classes force the franchise to do whatever it takes to land premier talents again, but the messages from COO Kevin Demoff and GM Les Snead continue to sound counterintuitive to a rebuild.
As if the Rams could contend this year by leaning even more heavily on their three remaining stars while still being in position in the draft next year to land a blue chip prospect.
Those three stars—Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald—missed a combined 22 games last season, they all played between 500 and 620 snaps total. They will be 35, 32, and 30 when the 2023 season starts.
Oh right, I’m just a “hater”. Nothing unusual about this picture. The Rams “don’t” look completely different than they did in 2021.
And the 2022 Los Angeles Rams “did not” set any records for games missed because of injury.
Setting aside what the Rams starting offense, defense, and special teams units currently look like after free agency and leading into a draft in which L.A. has no first round pick and only one of the top-65 selections, let’s play a simple game of “What would the Rams look like today if next season kind of went just like last season?”
You can get a picture of the roster at OurLads.com. These are all players (or not players) signed to the Rams roster today and it gives you an idea of just how much building that Snead has left to do for a team that is “not rebuilding”. Who are the backups to all of the starters?
QB - Nobody
The Rams only have one QB signed to the roster. He sat out a lot of training camp last year because the team “was not worried” about his health, his elbow, his throwing arm. McVay says that Stafford will be 100% for all offseason programs. That will be a situation worth monitoring especially given that there is no other QB on the roster and few veteran options remaining. Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz headline the free agents. Zach Wilson, who spent the last two years with Rams offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur, is probable to be traded. As is Trey Lance, but that doesn’t seem like it will end up with an intra-division trade.
Teddy Bridgewater, Trevor Siemian, Joe Flacco, John Wolford, and Bryce Perkins are also free agents.
The Rams will probably draft a QB, although not one who most teams would want starting for them at any point next season.
RB - Kyren Williams, Ronnie Rivers
The team tried to get rid of Cam Akers last season and now they’re leaning on him as potentially the focal point of the 2023 offense. Not long removed from a devastating injury, Akers didn’t miss any games because of that issue last year but he also failed to show the same explosiveness that he had prior to it.
We know how often running backs get injured—Kyren Williams dealt with his own last year—but he’d be the next guy up today. Williams had 35 carries for 139 yards and no touchdowns over 10 games during his rookie season.
WR - Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, Lance McCutcheon
Kupp missed eight games last year and I’m not considering Allen Robinson to actually be on the Rams roster right now, so I won’t even include him as a starter. Instead, what if the Rams didn’t have Kupp and Van Jefferson? The QB would have to be throwing to these three. We know that Robinson is as good as gone, so this is the next wave after Kupp and Jefferson.
TE - Brycen Hopkins, Hunter Long
How much longer will Tyler Higbee be on the Rams? The 30-year-old tight end with a history of drops is entering the final year of his contract. So put it on Hopkins after playing in two snaps, 59 snaps, and 173 snaps over the first three years of his NFL career. Hopkins is also a free agent in 2023.
LT - A.J. Arcuri
LG - Tremayne Anchrum
C - Coleman Shelton
RG - Zach Thomas
RT - Brycen Hopkins
So yeah, the offensive line definitely won’t suffer any injuries again next year, right? So then we won’t have to see any of these names next year? That couldn’t happen?
If you ruled out Joe Noteboom, Rob Havenstein, Logan Bruss (who is not yet a starter), Brian Allen, and A.J. Jackson, you’d be left with four remaining offensive linemen. There isn’t a fifth, that’s why I had to slide Hopkins over from tight end to right tackle. His dad was a great NFL tackle, so maybe that’ll be the next evolution of his career!
There are no other offensive linemen on the roster other than what you see.
DT - Larrell Murchison
NT - Bobby Brown III
DE - Earnest Brown IV
The Rams re-signed Marquise Copeland, their second free agent signing of the entire offseason, and Donald remains on the roster so far. If you rule out those two and Jonah Williams, you’d be left with these three. Brown III has played in 19 games over two seasons, including 186 snaps on defense. After not making the team in 2021, Brown IV got elevated for five games in 2022 and played in 136 snaps. Murchison was a surprising midseason pickup who had two sacks over 54 snaps.
OLB - Daniel Hardy
ILB - Jake Hummel
OLB - Zach VanValkenburg
Front-7 - T.J. Carter
If Raheem Morris is running a 3-4 next year, he’s going to need a lot more linebackers after the team cut Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd.
If L.A. had to go today they’d have Ernest Jones and Christian Rozeboom in the middle, Keir Thomas and Michael Hoecht on the outside. Yes...those are the STARTERS.
Therefore without them, I need to elevate Hardy, Hummel, and VanValkenburg. Without any other linebackers on the roster right now that means that defensive lineman T.J. Carter is going to need to get in there somewhere. I guess it’s time for a 4-3!
CB - Shaun Jolly at all 3 spots
If the team didn’t have Derion Kendrick, Robert Rochell, or Cobie Durant, it’s going to be a busy day for Shaun Jolly.
FS - Richard LeCounte III
SS - Quentin Lake
Without Jordan Fuller and Russ Yeast, this is where we are left.
K, P, LS, Returner - There aren’t even starters here
There aren’t even starters here.