The Rams went all-in to win a Super Bowl in 2021 and it worked. They crashed back to earth in 2022. And this offseason, they’re getting rid of expensive veterans as they begin to rebuild.
Rams COO Kevin Demoff says this was always the plan.
Demoff wrote in a letter to season ticket holders that the team that famously said “F them picks” as it traded draft picks for veteran players never expected to employ that strategy indefinitely.
“The consistent hallmark of our team under Sean McVay and Les Snead has been aggressive moves in pursuit of Super Bowl titles,” Demoff wrote. “While this year may feel different given the first two weeks of the offseason, make no mistake, we expect to compete for the NFC West division title this season and make a run towards Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas.
“We always knew that there would be a time when we would have to pull back on our typical approach to help continue our sustained run of success. In the past, when we traded for younger Pro Bowl players who would command new contracts – Sammy Watkins, Marcus Peters, Brandin Cooks, Jalen Ramsey – we had the long-term salary cap flexibility to take on those new contracts. If we wanted to acquire short-term players such as Dante Fowler or Von Miller, we had the extra draft capital to do so to help us make a Super Bowl push, which happened in both cases.
“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.
“As a result, we faced a choice this offseason. We could once again restructure contracts to give ourselves one last shot with our core roster but that would mean a total rebuild would be necessary over the next few seasons. Or we could focus on replenishing our draft capital and improving our long-term salary cap situation, clearing the way for us to compete both now and in the future.
“Collectively as an organization, we chose the latter path, believing in the talent on our current roster and the skills of our coaching staff to return us to the playoffs. As we sit today, we have 11 draft picks in this year’s draft, including three in the top 77. We have nearly all of our picks in 2024 to both build next year and have as capital to make trades at this year’s trade deadline. From a salary cap perspective, while we have had to move on from players who helped us lift a Lombardi Trophy at SoFi Stadium, we have taken all of our salary cap pain in 2023 and project to have more than $60 million in space in 2024, the most salary cap space we have had since our move to Los Angeles.
“Let me be clear – our goal for 2023 is to win the NFC West and make a deep playoff run. Change doesn’t mean that we expect to take a step back. Our Super Bowl LVI starting lineup featured 19 starters (out of 22) that didn’t start in Super Bowl LIII just three years prior. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald all enter this offseason as fresh as they have been in a few seasons and hungry to return to their Super Bowl form. We are excited to have young players such as Cam Akers, Cobie Durant, Van Jefferson and Ernest Jones take on more prominent roles. Sean has assembled a new coaching staff with a focus on great teachers, communicators, and different backgrounds to collaborate and figure out the best way to go win the NFC.
“We know what a privilege it is to be Los Angeles’ team and with that comes great expectations. It is not enough to win just one championship, even when you win that one at home. Our vision and mandate from ownership has always been for sustained success and multiple Lombardi trophies. Under Sean and Les’ leadership, we are confident that this plan will allow us to compete and contend not only for this year but for years to come, and we can’t wait to see you at SoFi Stadium this fall to start that journey together.”
So while the Rams are pulling back, they insist that they’re still competing in 2023. Just without a lot of the players who helped them win a Super Bowl in 2021.