Inside the mind of LA Rams GM Les Snead about the 2021 roster: Part I
By Bret Stuter
When LA Rams GM Les Snead stepped up for the virtual press conference on January 26, 2021, the timing was nearly perfectly timed. The LA Rams had just concluded both a pleasantly surprising and disappointing 2020 NFL season. This was a season where the Rams finished at 10-6, advanced to the Divisional Round of the NFL Playoffs, and rebounded nicely from a 9-7 season that found the Rams out of the playoff for the first time in head coach Sean McVay’s short tenure.
This was the first time that the Rams media had to get a feel for the LA Rams’ thoughts after losing Brad Holmes to the Detroit Lions, and Brandon Staley to the Los Angeles Chargers as their new head coach. It was early in the offseason, just after the Rams announced hiring new DC Raheem Morris and ST coordinator Joe DeCamillis.
Snead has a press release style over virtual press conferences that is pretty casual and comfortable. somewhat like video calling a relative or friend. In this call, Snead did a good job of sharing as much as he could, while not showing his hand about the future of quarterback Jared Goff.
‘Once we’re refreshed with emotions removed, we’ll sit down and try to figure...’ comment at 6:42 of the video was so very telling about the state of the Rams organization at that point. It was clear in this video that the Rams were very open to moving Goff. (of course, it turned out that the Rams were dealing Goff on the trading block almost instantly at the outset of the offseason).
‘That happens (new salary cap numbers released), every year as we know… because you’re not going to be able to re-sign everyone that you want even if you did have the most money in the league…‘ – comment at 9:15 of the video opened an entirely new line of thought for the Rams. He touches base on the possibility of renegotiating veteran contracts to account for the lower salary cap, veterans test the NFL Free Agency market only to re-sign with the Rams.
Snead discussed pleasure with both rookies WR Van Jefferson and RB Cam Akers. He admitted that the Rams employ a mock redshirt for offensive rookie players. He even talked at length about Akers’s superhuman recuperative ability to come back from a high ankle sprain.
‘Andrew (Whitworth) will probably take some time to decompress, refresh, and things like that, and at the right time make that decision‘ – comment at the 19:10 mark of the video was another deliberate wordsmithing. If the LA Rams were convinced at Whitworth’s return for 2021, the commentary would have been far different. Right now, the LA Rams are on the hook for nearly $11.2 million. That’s a heavy price tag, and one the Rams will surely target to renegotiate to a lesser number. We named Whitworth’s deal as vulnerable to salary cap shaving, and after combining Snead’s comments about renegotiating veteran contracts, I’m convinced that the two are connected.
‘(Talks about players to re-sign will) Start again, probably sometime in the middle of February…after we decompress and refresh. The main thing is to try to get it right. Over a four-week span, come up with that plan‘ – comment at the 20:15 mark of the video lays the strategy for the off-season. The Rams have a give-and-take dialogue of what can be done versus what the coaching staff (McVay) wants to happen. It’s clear that the Rams will layout their scenarios, and commit to input from McVay over which course to take to reassemble the 2021 roster.
You can watch the hour-long video multiple times, and each time you will likely come away with a new kernel of the 2021 NFL strategy of rebuilding the Rams roster. But the repeated message from Snead is the commitment to ‘be a better offense’. The LA Rams defection of Pass Game Coordinator Shane Waldron felt similar to last year’s defection of RB coach Skip Peete to the Dallas Cowboys.
If we have the time, this is worth revisiting. Snead, for as much as he doesn’t say, is pretty straightforward with what he does say. There is a sack full of bread crumbs in this video. We’ll likely want to take a harder look at the last half of this video. The Rams have been operating at a presumption of a cap of $175 million. The new estimate of $181 million will help the Rams organization, but perhaps not by as much as many fans may expect.
This offseason will be a wilder ride than usual. Snead expects it to be a crazy season, and he covers a pretty large spectrum of the crazy wild side. So buckle up, buttercup. This is going to be very entertaining.