LA Rams are still high-stakes gamblers, but 2023 is on house money

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams v Cincinnati Bengals / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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How to build an NFL dynasty

That's pretty ambitious stuff, coming off a 5-12 record, isn't it? But keep in mind two things. The LA Rams were about as banged up as any team that won a Super Bowl. Guys were stepping onto the football field wrapped up in duct tape just to make it through that game. That all bled over to the 2022 NFL season, when the Rams were still banged up from a long grueling campaign, and were thrust back onto the football field with a roster that was still feeling the aches and pains from the previous season.

This year, the only real bar of high expectations has been set by some optimistic fans. But even the NFL analysts and pundits who are calling for the Rams to perform well in 2023 are doing so out of respect for Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and head coach Sean McVay. But do they really believe it?

It doesn't really matter at this point. The Rams' goal in 2023 is not just to win games, but to teach a roster bursting with young talented players how to go about winning. This is a season with the Rams clearly playing for fun again. And that is not to say that winning is not the goal, but the focus this year is on having fun and playing fundamentally sound football.

Sustainable success = financial fitness

The Rams are not just resetting their roster, renovating their coaching staff and refurbishing with young players. The Rams ultimate goal is to be far more strategic in coordinating what is needed by the team and what is asked for from the coaching staff. This past offseason was one more chapter of devastatingly crippling dead money on the LA Rams payroll, a trend that has plagued this team since 2019.

Over a third of the Rams 2023 NFL salary cap ($72.2 million dead cap vs. $224.87 million total adjusted 2023 salary) is tied up by players who are no longer on the Rams roster. In fact, the Rams dead cap has continued to be more and more crippling for the team:

  • 2023 - Dead Cap $72,226,728, IR - $0 (TBD)
  • 2022 - Dead Cap $26,653,334, IR - $58,353,159
  • 2021 - Dead Cap $49,435,215, IR - $11,982,361
  • 2020 - Dead Cap $38,466,148, IR - $4,444,760

As you can see from the tables above, the Rams payroll money tied up in players who were unable to compete on the football field has risen dramatically in the past four season, from $43 million in 2020, to already over $72 million in 2023, before any players are assigned to IR.

What we seldom focus on and is clearly part of the Rams strategy is to purge all of these diluting effects from their payroll in the future. As of today, the Rams will take a hit from void years from Tyler Higbee in 2024, which will be less than $3 million. Will it remain so pristine? Perhaps not.

Very hot. 9 Rams in do or die situation in 2023. Do or Bye, there is no try season for these 9 LA Rams veterans. dark

But the Rams goals for 2024 appear to be doable. The Rams will refresh the roster with young players. The Rams will trim all of the dead weight from their payroll expense. And best of all, the Rams will start writing a new chapter of NFL success. And it will all be just in time for the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft.