The start of the Los Angeles Rams‘ offseason has been a peculiar one, to say the least.
From the outside looking in, it would appear the Rams are tearing down the core that won them a Super Bowl just 13 months ago and are “remodeling” their roster with an eye toward the future.
It’s no secret that the Rams came into this offseason over the salary cap and needed to find a way to clear space. Getting rid of the above players is one way to do that, but the thing is that those moves won’t save as much money as you would think… in 2023.
Cutting Wagner only saved the Rams $5 million against the cap, and doing the same with Floyd would save them $3 million, so $8 million total. If the Rams would have waited until post-June 1, then they would save $15.2 million against the cap. But that would spread the rest of the money over the remaining years of the contract, which means it still would be hurting L.A. in 2024 and beyond.
So by making the decisions the Rams will appear to be making in the next couple of weeks, it would indicate that they are willing to take on big dead cap hits, biting the bullet and perhaps not being very good again in 2023, in order to have books that are much more manageable in 2024.
Why this is starting to make sense
Anyone who has been reading me on this website would know that I have been very against this strategy so far.
But now that more details are starting to come out, it is starting to make more sense to me and here’s why…
I was under the impression that the 2023 season would be the last for both Sean McVay and Aaron Donald. Both have flirted with retirement each of the last two offseasons and although they have decided to come back, it definitely seemed like a year-to-year decision for both.
So with that being the case, I felt that both of those guys deserved one last chance at competing for a Super Bowl with the organization dedicating all of their available resources to the 2023 season, even if it meant a longer rebuilding process after that.
But hold on a minute…
It seems there has been a material change, as McVay spoke to the media on Friday morning and stated that he doesn’t want the threat of retirement looming over him every year. McVay essentially committed to the Rams long-term, which is outstanding news.
And when looking at Donald’s contract, he has two years left and set it to make a lot of money. His contract ends after the 2024 season when he will be making $35 million as the highest-paid non-quarterback in the league. So that essentially means Donald is committed to the Rams through the 2024 season. He would be crazy to retire after 2023 and leave that money on the table.
So now that McVay and Donald are both gonna be around longer than just 2023, the Rams using this offseason to reset their books is very appealing.
Sure, they probably won’t make the playoffs this upcoming season (although crazier things have happened and the NFC is still very weak).
But a year from now, the Rams will be in a much, much better place. They will still have franchise cornerstones like Donald, Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp to build around. They will have their full collection of draft capital to work with, including a first-round pick for the first time in more than half a decade (and they might even have extra draft capital depending on what they get in a Ramsey trade). And finally, they will have legit salary cap space at their disposal, as well as cash flow, after ridding themselves of the Ramsey, Wagner, Floyd and Robinson contracts.
On the latest episode of her “11 Personnel” podcast, The Athletic’s Rams insider Jourdan Rodrigue said that she has heard from people inside the Rams’ building that they expect to have as much as $100 million in salary cap space to work with in 2024.
I have no clue how they will be able to get THAT much, but the point is that if L.A. uses 2023 as a reset year, the possibilities will be endless for them in 2024 and beyond.
At this point, that feels like the best of both worlds as the Rams will still be able to give McVay and Donald a shot at competing in 2024, but they also won’t be hamstringing the organization for years to come by doing so.
So as always, Rams fans just need to be patient and trust that McVay and Les Snead have a plan. The 2023 season may not be great, but it will give young guys an opportunity to develop in a low-pressure environment as the organization figures out who are their next cornerstones for years to come.