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Predicting how former Rams will do in 2023

The Rams parted with a lot of players in 2023 and how they do this season may show fans why that happened

NFL: Preseason-Tampa Bay Buccaneers at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know why it’s considered a bad thing to say that the Los Angeles Rams are starting over this year, especially given that clearly that’s what they’re doing. No matter how many times the team says that they’re “remodeling the way” and regardless of what Kevin Demoff says on podcasts that won’t challenge him with tough questions about the direction of the team, the Rams are in the process of ending an era so that they can officially start a new one.

Why is that bad?

The Rams were starting over in 1999. The Rams were starting over when they hired Sean McVay in 2017. Both re-starts led to Super Bowl championships. Starting over is what L.A. had to do this offseason and almost every step along the way was either the smart move or the only move.

Trading Jalen Ramsey and releasing Bobby Wagner were smart moves. Paying Matthew Stafford his roster bonus and holding onto him for this long has been the only move.

We could pick nits over the dangers that lie ahead and whether or not the Rams could have done more to solidify the offensive line or the high-wire circus act that will be known as “special teams”, but this is what a restart looks like; the Rams have parted ways with almost all of the players who won’t be a part of the next era and I have to believe that they aren’t entirely finished with that side of the “re-model”.

Everything so far is what the Rams have been capable of doing. Some moves will take more time.

The team that won the Super Bowl 18 months ago is almost entirely gone and most of the defense from last season is now spread spread out around various teams in the NFL. I think for the most part, the Rams didn’t need to needlessly hold onto the players who were let go just for the sake of not letting go. These are nine players who were parted with in 2023 and how I expect them to do with their new teams, leaving little room for regret when it’s all said and done.

QB Baker Mayfield, Buccaneers

Benched in Week 4 for Kyle Trask. The amount of chances that Mayfield and Sam Darnold have gotten is remarkable to watch. Where’s this energy for Zach Wilson? These days, most people use “However I felt about this player on draft night is how I will view them for the rest of their lives” as their barometer for measuring success. I don’t think Trask will be better—the fact that he didn’t win the job is all the evidence needed, similar to how the Panthers picked Mayfield over Darnold and P.J. Walker last season—but he’ll make more sense for what Tampa Bay wants to accomplish after they start 0-4.

Tampa Bay will return from their Week 5 Bye to start Trask against the Lions. Mike Evans and Chris Godwin will be on the trade block.

WR Allen Robinson, Steelers

Released midseason, leading to retirement. Training camp reports of Robinson’s “return to form” feel all too similar to what the Rams beat was writing in 2022. I can’t say that I know of any 30-year-old receivers who bounced back from how bad Robinson has been in the last two seasons.

CB Jalen Ramsey, Dolphins

Doesn’t return from knee surgery until 2024. Ramsey wasn’t going to play for the Rams again unless they guaranteed his 2023 and 2024 salaries, which L.A. did not want to do, so he was traded to Miami and the Dolphins did it instead. That’s why the trade return wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. Now they’re on the hook for a $14.5 million base salary and an $11 million roster bonus in 2024, so the Dolphins have no choice: They have to bring him back. How Ramsey plays at 30 following knee surgery will determine if he is still in the league at 31, when he has no guaranteed money and a $4 million roster bonus.

DT Greg Gaines, Bucs

Posts career-high five sacks playing next to Vita Vea and Calijah Kancey, one of the few strengths on Tampa’s roster. People are going to assume I’m just being negative and writing off every former Rams player if I don’t make sure to get a positive prediction in here soon, so there you have it: L.A. should have re-signed Gaines.

LB Bobby Wagner, Seahawks

Bobby’s swan song season. The Seahawks got back linebacker Jordyn Brooks from a torn ACL (on January 1) way before anyone expected, as he will be ready for Week 1 against the Rams. Coupled with the offseason signing of former top-10 pick Devin Bush, another player who tore his ACL but didn’t recover like the Steelers hoped, Seattle has more options at linebacker now than they probably expected when they brought back Wagner. Despite his accolades with the Rams in 2022, Bobby Wagner is clearly at the end of his career and his playing time will decrease as the season goes on, leading into a 2024 retirement.

DE Leonard Floyd, Bills

2.5 sacks. I’m just picking a number—a small one obviously—as there isn’t much else to say. Floyd had 29 sacks in three seasons with the Rams, it was a good fit for him. Obviously much better than the Bears, as he had 11.5 sacks in the previous three seasons before signing with L.A.. That feels like what Floyd will revert back to and he could end up being the sixth-best edge rusher on the Bills. Even the fact that Buffalo signed him for $7 million guaranteed is quite a statement about how they feel about former first/second round picks A.J. Epenesa, Boogie Basham, Greg Rosseau, and Shaq Lawson. But aren’t those four more interesting?

The sixth player at the position is Von Miller, who is now 34 and on PUP. It could be the final season for both former Rams edge rushers.

DT A’Shawn Robinson, Giants

He is very good in the nine games he’s healthy enough to play in. Robinson chose smart by signing with the Giants and snuggling into that defensive line group.

FS Nick Scott, Bengals

He starts 17 games. The Bengals did draft a safety in the third round, Jordan Battle, and Scott will start next to a first round pick in 2022, Dax Hill. He’s good enough to start in 2023, especially since teams will often be using three safeties at a time anyway.

S Taylor Rapp, Bills

Finds his best NFL fit, which means he doesn’t start any games and is used at the right time instead of all the time. Buffalo has Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, one of the best safety tandems in the NFL, and Damar Hamlin has returned. Rapp isn’t being asked to start, which could actually extend his career more than if he was being asked to start.