Cutting ex-LA Rams players is an alarmingly upward trend in the NFL
Can it be reverse-engineered?
So if players suddenly struggle to play up to their contractual expectations when leaving the LA Rams and signing on with a new team, is the reverse equally true? After all, if playing for the Rams generated so much positive on-field production that other teams are willing to cut ridiculously overpriced contracts to sign the player, shouldn’t restoring that player to the Rams organization have the opposite effect?
No NFL team is created equally. That’s why some teams are able to find diamonds-in-the-rough in late rounds of an NFL Draft, while other teams may have multiple first-round draft picks and still continue to struggle to find lasting success in the NFL. And it’s why the same player can flourish in the LA Rams offense or defense, yet seem to struggle on their new team.
So the question is if a player like Dante Fowler Jr. can achieve Pro Bowl proficiency while playing inside linebacker with the LA Rams, what prevents him from repeating that same level of excellence? If you believe that he did not play well last year automatically means he will struggle this year, then you are as guilty as the team that signed him.
I believe that the process can be reverse-engineered. That is, if the player can struggle by leaving the LA Rams, they can just as likely flourish by returning a bit wiser and more seasoned to the team. The key to it all is to ensure that any executed contract is team-friendly, is packed with incentive clauses, and retains severability if the player fails to live up to expectations.
I think that the LA Rams should give serious consideration to pivoting to this new way of thinking. Players who are released as salary cap cuts or due to underperforming previous contracts are typically just potential bargains waiting to be scooped up by an opportunistic team. Since the LA Rams have frequently exhausted their disposable salary cap and traded away their most valued draft picks long before the arrival of the NFL Free Agency market, it would be wise for the Rams to consider bargain shopping for former players, but at the right price.