What is driving the Rams 3-year pattern?
The truth is that there is almost no way to dissect and give scientifically sound evidence of how the LA Rams repeat their success. But, let's step back for a moment. Is this a good thing or a bad thing? After all, if this is a pattern of the Rams' own making, is it acceptable to deliberately hit a restart button every three years for an NFL team in pursuit of a Super Bowl victory? Or does the fact that the Rams appear in a Super Bowl every third year make it all worthwhile?
Factor III: NFL limits.
The NFL has created speed bumps in the ability of teams to remain successful and challenge the historic dynasties of the NFL's history. Believing that a more competitive league is better business, the NFL has created limits to the NFL salary cap that impacts all teams, and the better a team does, the worse off that team falls in the next year's order in the NFL Draft.
Factor II: Coaching staff retention
Perhaps the worst part of it is the fact that when the LA Rams are successful, it appears as though all NFL teams that seek a winning culture in their team's future cannibalize the Rams coaching staff to start their own successful run in the NFL. The Rams have certainly been a team that has sprouted plenty of NFL head coaches from Rams HC Sean McVay's coaching tree.
Factor I: Pay me factor
I speculate that the greatest impact that forces these LA Rams into a three-year cycle is the way the LA Rams prioritizes paying key players. Do LA Rams players stop trying after they get paid? We asked the question after the 2019 season, and could just as easily have asked the same question after the 2022 season. The LA Rams love to reward players for the team's success. But that pattern of lucrative contracts resets the timer on the Rams' window for success. Ultimately, the Rams must part ways with players who are not playing up to their contract value, swallow a large amount of dead salary cap, and start over.
- 2018 dead cap space – $16.8 million ( 9.4 percent)
- 2019 dead cap space – $13.6 million ( 5.9 percent)
- 2020 dead cap space – $38.5 million (19.4 percent)
- 2021 dead cap space – $30.8 million (17.1 percent)
- 2022 dead cap space - $26.7 million (13.25 percent)
- 2023 dead cap space - $77.7 million (34.6 percent)
While there are many forces at play, notice how quickly the Rams dead salary cap seems to spike in the same three year pattern?
If the same holds true for the Rams in this three-year cycle, then you would and should expect the Rams to be free spenders in the upcoming 2024 NFL Free Agency market. And that shopping spree could carry the Rams over the top to another Super Bowl appearance.
In the end, it all appears to be a vicious cycle for the LA Rams. But if it results in a Rams Super Bowl appearance every third season? I'm willingly along for the ride.