After you reach the top, people typically try to bring you back down. That’s certainly been the case ever since the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI. It started in training camp with the Matthew Stafford’s elbow story and has since continued with rumors that Sean McVay was leaving, the Rams were trying to trade Stafford, and speculation that Donald could be a potential trade piece.
The real question at this point in the offseason isn't “who are the Rams trading?”, but rather “who aren’t the Rams trading?”. The important thing to remember in all of these trade rumors is who the source is.
For example, the Matthew Stafford trade rumors resurfaced last week, but the source of those rumors did not. Former NFL Executive Michael Lombardi went on the Pat McAfee show and had this to say,
“When his option bonus was getting ready to kick in, they attempted, with a lot of effort, to trade him—any team could have had him. The problem was, you had to absorb the $59 million, and the Rams knew there was no way around the $59 million. They couldn’t get around it unless they traded him and somebody else took it.”
This is after Les Snead shot down the initial rumors back in March saying that the Rams were going to be relying on Stafford and went as far as to call the quarterback one of his pillars. Now, it’s not uncommon for a NFL GM to be dishonest when it comes to the future of his players. However, Snead typically is cryptic in these situations such as when he said Jared Goff was the Rams quarterback “right now” prior to trading for Stafford.
Last month, Sports Illustrated speculated that Aaron Donald could be a viable trade candidate. SI NFL staff writer Matt Verderame said,
“Trading Donald would be the toughest move of general manager Les Snead’s career. One could argue it would also be a smart one. Donald, 32, is entering the twilight of his career. He currently has two years left on his deal with the Rams, including cap hits of $26 million and $34.1 million before a void year in 2025. Meanwhile, Los Angeles is short on talent and long on needs. If the Rams trade Donald post–June 1, they save $35.1 million over the upcoming two seasons while also netting much-needed draft capital. On that front, the picks should be excellent considering Donald is the best defensive player of his era, and would cost the acquiring team only $13.5 million and $10 million, respectively.”
If there’s one player that the Rams won’t be trading anytime soon, it’s Donald. Yet, with the Rams coming off of a bad season and perceived to be “tanking” combined with the usual silliness of the offseason, this is the type of speculation that we get.
Think it stops at Stafford and Donald? You might as well throw Cooper Kupp into the mix. In a series of trade scenarios, Bleacher Report had Kupp being sent to the Detroit Lions. In the trade, the Rams would receive a 2024 first-round pick, 2024 third-round pick (via Vikings), and a 2025 third-round pick.
“The Detroit Lions could make their case for inclusion by acquiring one of the remaining superstars from the Rams team that won Super Bowl LVI...If the Lions are going to have success in the playoffs with Goff at quarterback they have to give him an elite supporting cast. Jameson Williams’ six-game suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy will make that even more difficult. Offering the Rams additional draft capital to help with their rebuild while adding one of the most talented receivers in the game would help both franchises achieve their goals in their current timelines.”
Again, I’ll take things that won’t happen for $1000. It’s the offseason and these are the type of stories that are going to be written. The fact that the Rams are in a perceived rebuild doesn’t really help their case.
As these stories do come out though, it’s important to decipher where the “rumor” is coming from and whether or not it’s just speculative or may has some truth behind it. Outside of Lombardi, the Donald and Kupp trades are both just speculative. Lombardi meanwhile claims to still have sources and be connected around the league, but he seems to be wrong more often than not.
At some point the Rams may have to tear it down in order to build a new foundation. With their window open until 2025, it doesn’t make sense to trade away all of their stars in one offseason.
Thankfully the offseason is almost over with training camp set to begin in two weeks and these these types of “rumors” can come to an end.