The silence is deafening.
No commercially purchased player brands. No big name free agent signings. No rumours.
This is not a rebuild, or a reboot, or a remodel for the Rams.
This is an offseason retirement, though Rams executives insist they haven’t given up.
“We’re boring Rams this year,” general manager Les Snead said Monday at the NFL owners’ meetings.
The Rams are still working on coach Sean McVay, star quarterback Matthew Stafford, star receiver Cooper Kupp and star defensive lineman Aaron Donald. All signed large extensions after the 2021 season.
But the Rams’ 2023 austerity plan is a calculated delay that has silenced them like a Saguaro cactus in the Arizona desert.
The Rams are being deliberately quiet, Snead said, to make for a “healthier, more sustainable,” salary cap situation.
“So when we get to a point where we think, ‘OK, let’s hit the gas again,'” he said, “you have the ability to do it.”
It is an unusual place for rams. Since their return from St. Louis to Los Angeles in 2016, almost every year their bold moves have made offseason headlines, if not dominated.
The Rams came to the 2016 owners’ meetings with a plan, and turned it on three weeks later by trading up a record 14 spots to select quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Two years later, they completed an incredible offseason at the league meeting, completing the signing of defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, and Odell Beckham Jr. shooting tires to exchange with receiver star receiver.
In 2021, the Rams reached the league meet less than two months after trading Stafford. And last year it was the beauty of the ball after finishing their entire season boom-or-bust with a victory in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.
But this week, after a disastrous 5-12 last season, a sabbatical after McVay’s second flirtation with the postseason, the trade or release of several marquee players and the team’s failure to pursue free agents, the Rams are a bit of a bummer.
Group managers are not responsible.
Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ director of operations, said he “absolutely expects” the Rams to be a playoff team.
“This year’s model is the one that’s come out of there without a rattle,” Demoff said. “But I honestly don’t feel like we’ve strayed too far from our DNA under Sean and Les’ leadership.”
Odell Beckham Jr., center, watches the Lakers-Suns game March 22 in Los Angeles. The receiver continues to lead the rams.
(Mark J. Terrill/Associated Press)
To get under the $224.8 million salary cap, the Rams released linebacker Bobby Wagner and edge rusher Leonard Floyd and traded for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. They also restructured the contracts of offensive linemen Joe Noteboom and Brian Allen.
They are actively shopping receiver Allen Robinson and remain interested in free agent Beckham, whose mid-2021 signing provided an exclamation point about the Rams’ philosophy.
“Odell is going to have to figure out where he wants his next chapter to be,” Snead said.
The Rams signed versatile offensive lineman Coleman Shelton and defensive lineman Marquise Copeland. But they said goodbye to a parade of free agents, including backup quarterback Baker Mayfield, receiver Brandon Powell, offensive lineman David Edwards, running backs Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp, cornerback David Long, kicker Matt Gay, punter Riley Dixon and long snapper Matt Orzech.
It’s part of the Rams’ formula for getting future compensatory picks.
The Rams have 11 picks in the April 27-29 draft. But for the seventh straight year, a first-round pick isn’t among them.
That is expected to change next season. And if the Rams repeat anything close to last season’s disaster, they could be a top 10 pick. At this point, however, the rams do not appear on the road to “tankdom”. They are not considered a contender for the worst record in the league and a shot from USC quarterback Caleb Williams.
But Stafford, Kupp and Donald won’t be around the stars.
“We knew when we made those deals, ‘Hey, you’ve got three highly compensated players around you that you’re going to have to surround them with more cost controls,'” Rams vice president of football and business administration Tony Pastoors said.
Pastor estimated the team could be worth $55 million to $65 million in 2024.
That doesn’t mean the Rams will refrain from getting aggressive again if they contest the trade deadline, Pastoros said.
“I have no doubt that we will do what we do,” he said.
So the Rams aren’t worried about a lack of offseason excitement.
“Offseason excitement is really — it doesn’t mean anything,” Snead said. “Postseason excitement is really important.”