FOX Sports Insider
The Los Angeles Rams don’t want to declare a rebuild, so how about we try to find another appropriate description?
Let’s start with the specifics. The team that won the Super Bowl in February of 2022 on the back of a series of splashy signings didn’t acquire anyone in free agency except a backup QB on a minimum contract and a cut-rate receiver for… very slightly more than that.
Their roster is so jam-packed with rookies that it is the veterans who are looking around the locker room in search of a familiar face to talk to.
Their COO, Kevin Demoff, was moved to write a letter explaining why the same level of expectation should not be in place this time around because, in short, the Rams are taking one on the chin in the hope for better years ahead.
“We have taken all of our salary cap pain in 2023,” Demoff’s missive told season-ticket holders.
That pain involves a whopping $72.2 in dead cap money this season, thereby freeing up more than $60 million in space for 2024, which will be the most the franchise has held since moving back to Los Angeles.
This summer there were no big additions. No Von Miller-type, Odell Beckham-type, Jalen Ramsey-type maneuvers designed to give a get-us-over-the-top edge.
So what to call it then? A remodel? A refit, rework, rejig, regeneration? How about … er, rebuild?
“During the trade deadline this past year, it was clear that in a new era where teams were willing to be as aggressive as we were, that we had neither the draft capital nor the salary cap space to win trade conversations and be able to take on top players at the salaries they would command,” Demoff’s letter stated.
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General manager Les Snead has said they will be the “boring” Rams this year, at least in terms of off-field machinations. They are looking for stability, not fireworks, after a post-Super Bowl team that was historically miserable, checking in at 5-12 after a flame-out of a campaign.
There are good ways to back up a Super Bowl title, not-so-good ways, and then there is the way the Rams did it. Yes, they were injury-jinxed, especially on the offensive line, but it still got really ugly, very quickly.
They lost their last five division games and won only twice after Oct. 16. Six straight defeats in the middle of the season meant the Super Bowl triumph buzz was quickly drained away.
That title was a blockbuster, and winning it in their own stadium made the champagne taste all the sweeter. Now it is time to feel the flip side.
The reality of that means head coach Sean McVay’s roster entering training camp included 36 rookies, 14 of them picked by the club in the most recent draft. Yeah, that’s a rebuild.
There are untested players in key positions but still a sprinkling of stars, with Matthew Stafford under center despite some summer trade rumors, Aaron Donald still around despite another round of retirement speculation and Cooper Kupp back as one of the league’s best receivers.
It sets up an interesting spot, especially in the NFC West. The San Francisco 49ers are the divisional favorite but have some quarterback uncertainty, with Brock Purdy coming back from elbow surgery. The Seattle Seahawks are next on the list and have some cause for optimism, behind the AP Comeback Player of the Year, Geno Smith. The Arizona Cardinals were bad last season, and are the betting favorites for the No. 1 pick in 2024.
“The Rams are not in a terrible place,” FS1’s Colin Cowherd said, on The Herd. “If you look at their schedule, this is why I tend to be higher on the Rams than everyone else.
“They only face three great, elite quarterbacks. I think they are 8-9 or 9-8 – I think they fight with Seattle for a wildcard spot the final week of the year.”
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They’d take that. For now. Los Angeles is a city where there is so much to do that winning matters, especially when you’ve already done it once, and especially when you have an owner, Stan Kroenke, who’s one of the richest in the league.
But now is the time to pay the tab that was accrued in building that Super Bowl success. Frame it however you want, it sounds like a rebuild. The Rams just hope it’s a short one.
Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and the author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and subscribe to the daily newsletter.
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