Now that the dust is starting to settle on NFL free agency, the Los Angeles Rams‘ plan moving forward has become much more clear.
The Rams started this offseason by making some unpopular decisions, notably cutting both Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd and trading Jalen Ramsey to the Miami Dolphins. They have also allowed Allen Robinson to seek a trade and let Greg Gaines, Nick Scott and Matt Gay walk in free agency. Outside of re-signing Coleman Shelton, they have not made any additions in free agency.
I’ve written about this a few times, but those decisions did not make sense to me at first. With Sean McVay, Aaron Donald and Matthew Stafford all returning in 2023, I thought they would give this core one last shot at a Super Bowl run.
Even though the Rams didn’t have cap space to start this offseason, there’s a way to push the money down the line, as they and so many other teams do so often, so they could keep their core players together for the 2023 season.
The Rams, however, saw things differently. After a disappointing 2022 season, the Rams felt that changes needed to be made and that the long-term future of the franchise needed to be prioritized instead of one last unlikely Super Bowl run.
With McVay and Donald essentially committed to the Rams through the 2024 season, the organization will use 2023 to completely reset their cap after being in cap hell for the last handful of years.
Cutting Wagner and Floyd and trading Ramsey won’t save the Rams much against the cap in 2023. What it will do though is open up a ton of cap space for the Rams a year from now:
So essentially what we’re seeing here is that the Rams will take on a ton of dead money in 2023, and perhaps even more if they trade or cut Robinson, in exchange for wiping themselves clean of the Wagner, Floyd and Ramsey contracts in 2024.
How the Rams will look a year from now
As things currently stand, the Rams are not projected to be a playoff team in 2023 and there aren’t a ton of avenues to change that.
Sure, getting guys back healthy will help. The Rams suffered a historic number of injuries on the offensive line in 2022 and were also without Stafford, Donald and Cooper Kupp for the second half of the season.
If the Rams can get better injury luck in 2023 then maybe they are able to compete for a wild card spot. But they have essentially lost half their defense with no means of replacing them due to their lack of cap space, and L.A. also does not have a first-round pick in the upcoming draft.
What the 2023 season will be for the Rams is a chance for young guys to compete for spots while the coaching staff and front office evaluate who is worth keeping around long-term and what their needs are.
Then, next offseason the Rams will have a full complement of draft picks, which includes a first-rounder for the first time in more than half a decade.
The Rams will also have more than $50 million in cap space (this number can change of course), so they can assess their needs and add veterans in free agency, ready to reload for the 2024 season with stars like Stafford, Donald and Kupp still under contract.
As Les Snead has said so many times, this is a “remodel” for the Rams, not a “rebuild.”
Even though the 2023 season may not be great, there is at least something to look forward to for Rams fans as they will be a sleeping giant by the time the 2024 season rolls around. And perhaps the best part about it is that people who don’t follow the Rams as closely as us don’t seem to know the avalanche is coming. They think the Rams will be in cap hell and rebuilding for the next 5-10 years, and boy will they be in for a surprise when their favorite team’s best free agent winds up wearing royal blue and sol in 2024.