Rebuild? Restock? Reset? To hear some talk, the LA Rams are heading for an arduous climb from the bottom of the NFL barrel. An outright rebuild, which will begin this offseason with the Rams slipping untouchable veteran players quietly into the NFL Trade Market, and letting the bidding begin. But others don’t see it that way. The Rams had more than 50 percent of their initial roster injured for significant periods in 2022, and that fixes itself when they return healthy and ready to play in 2023.
And it’s that debate, which we opened up to everyone to weigh in on, that continues to fuel speculation that the LA Rams have misjudged the shelf life of their current roster, and must dig up the foundation and start all over again.
That’s not just speculation from bloggers and casual NFL fans, either. Former LA Rams player Chris Long weighed in on the subject and has speculated that the LA Rams roster is heading for a rebuild, and suggested that veterans who have been there, done that, deserve a chance to compete for NFL Playoffs.
You’ve seen this podcast before. It was the one where Chris Long spoke to Peter Schrager over the LA Rams, and the willingness of the Rams to deal their veterans to more competitive teams in this off-season so as to avoid what some are now labeling as the inevitable rebuild.
Will the Rams deal veteran players away?
That was the debate that we have before us, and the primary reason for me to poll the Rams fanbase. And yet, here we are, momentum is building behind the notion that the LA Rams are not returning to the NFL Playoffs in 2023. Well, if these Rams rumors are true, this team most certainly will not compete for any postseason play.
In their discussion, Chris Long states that the LA Rams should not force a veteran like Aaron Donald to wait for the Rams to go through the effort to return to competitiveness.
In the discussion, Long stated:
"“And you know I don’t think a rebuild, because at least in the immediacy, it is a reset. I don’t know about a rebuild, but it’s a reset, however, you want to just, you know, separate those two words. I don’t think that he deserves that at this stage in his career. I would love to see him on the move.” – Per former Rams defensive lineman Chris Long on The Season with Peter Schrager Podcast"
That is the conversation that prompted Aaron Donald to Tweet his now-famous but brief Twitter response:
But is there more between the lines that we are not reading?
Despite Rams rumors, this team will rebound in 2023
If we follow these Rams’ rumors to their natural endpoint, the Rams do have a number of veterans who are highly compensated and are on the Rams’ roster to win now. Players like DL Aaron Donald, DB Jalen Ramsey, ILB Bobby Wagner, and even QB Matthew Stafford are almost certainly not thrilled to return to this Rams team if the plan is to rebuild through an NFL Draft. That takes years to accomplish, and these players simply do not have that much time left in their NFL careers to take that journey with the team.
I respect Chris Long and hold his straight-talking no-bullshit perspective in high regard, but I just can’t see it. The Rams have operated in a three-year cycle, now entering their eighth season, and the pattern is clear. In both 2017 and 2020, the Rams’ coaching staff was reformed, and players who could contribute quickly were added. In 2017, that meant the draft and free agency. But in 2020, it was injured players returning to the roster healthy once more.
I think 2023 will not be a year in which this team undergoes a massive youth movement. In many ways, the team’s efforts to trade for RB Christian McCaffrey and DE/OLB Brian Burns is solid evidence that the Rams continue to seek NFL talent that will impact this team now. As much as the NFL Draft has been marketed to be filled with future NFL stars, those players often take two or three seasons to even begin to reach their stride.
For now, we wait. But the stakes have suddenly grown significantly larger.