Eliminated! How long until LA Rams return to relevance this time?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /
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At the end of the 2019 NFL Season, the LA Rams did not make the NFL Playoffs. In that season, the Rams struggled with offensive line injuries that proved to be insurmountable. It was the same season that the Rams traded for DB Jalen Ramsey, did a salary dump of DB Aqib Talib to the Miami Dolphins, and traded the controversial DB Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens for ILB Kenny Young and a fifth-round draft pick.

The sentiment at the end of the 2019 season was almost identical to that of this season. The outcry was for the team to:

I – Fire DC Wade Phillips:  The team parted ways with Phillips, and ultimately hired a lesser-known OLB positional coach from the Denver Broncos named Brandon Staley. That turned out pretty well, as DC Brandon Staley led the defense to the top defensive ranking that season.

II – Trade or waive most of the OL: The team took the opposite approach, and retained as many offensive linemen as possible. The gambit proved incredibly successful as the 2020 NFL season was marred by the threat of COVID-19. The Rams returning veterans gave the offensive line a leg up on other NFL teams.

III – Invest heavily in rookie offensive linemen in the 2020 NFL Draft: Again, the LA Rams did not follow the fans’ demands to draft offensive linemen early or often. Instead, the Rams front office was content to invest in one offensive lineman in the seventh round of the 2020 NFL Draft, a headsy offensive tackle from Clemson named Tremayne Anchrum Jr.

light. Must Read. Top 50 prospects on LA Rams Big Board for the 2023 NFL Draft

LA Rams’ tortoise approach to rebuild wins the race

The Rams took an unpopular, but incredibly effective approach, to restocking their roster, and the results were solid. The team returned to the NFL Playoffs the following year and won Super Bowl LVI the next season. At the time, the Rams were in far greater salary cap distress, carrying dead cap space of nearly $39 million in 2020, and nearly $50 million in 2021.  In 2022, that dead cap space is down to $23 million, and half of that amount is the residual cap impact of trading away wide receiver Robert Woods.

While the LA Rams are not much better off in terms of draft picks in the 2023 NFL Draft, they do hold two picks in the Top 100, and if the right trade scenario arises on draft day, they could emerge with even more in the Top 100 before all is said and done. The Rams hold 37 players under contract for the 2023 NFL season and could increase that number after their season ends by signing practice squad players to Reserve/Future contracts.

Sexy? No.
Headlining news? No again.

But the goal in any offseason is not to make a splash. It’s to improve the roster, and the Rams clearly have a good handle on how to do so. If they have forgotten, we’ve outlined the process for everyone to follow in 3-2-1 steps.

The Rams have proven that they can be back in playoff contention in 2023. If everything goes well, this team could be back in the Super Bowl the following year. But it’s not going to happen if the team deviates from the course. Reworking the roster with an infusion of many rookies delays that timetable.

How the Rams’ roster is restocked can have a tremendous impact on how quickly this team rebounds. But with so many star players coming back from season-ending injuries, the Rams will be better, much better, in 2023. How will the team handle the off-season? Let us know what you think in the comments section.  And stay tuned, because this will be a very entertaining off-season . . .

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