LA Rams going All In once more, but you'll never guess how

LA Rams GM Les Snead
LA Rams GM Les Snead / Michael Hickey/GettyImages

The LA Rams have been a bit inactive so far in another annual NFL Free Agency market. While the team seldom pushes a lot of money into the annual bidding wars for the most recognizable NFL headlining players, even this year is a bit surprising for the Rams. After all, the Rams have just 44 players under contract for the 2023 NFL season. So what? The average number of players on an NFL team roster right now is 64 players, as all teams continue to build toward the 90 player roster limit in time for training camp.

Well, the next closest team is the Seattle Seahawks with 56 players. The top team right now happens to be the Atlanta Falcons with 74 players under contract to compete for them in the 2023 NFL season. That is 30 players more than the Rams have on their roster, and they have over $24 million in free cap space. The Rams are under $12 million. The greatest challenge facing the Rams is the fact that this team's salary cap space will continue to shrink until the team at least hits 51 players signed to contracts. So the Rams' current cap space is going to shrink, rapidly.

So what is the plan for 2023 really all about? It's a question that even after fans hear answers, there is still some confusion. So let's look at this with a blank slate.

Financial quagmire

We have been tracking all of the LA Rams sudden urge to purge their roster moves for the 2024 NFL season, all of which have created over $50 million of dead salary cap space in 2023. Some have calculated that the amount of money freed up for 2024 by the Rams with these moves is well over $64 million. So the Rams are rolling in dough next year, right?

Not if you check out the 2024 NFL salary cap projections by Even with the benefit of parting ways with so many players, and a 2024 roster that has only 27 players under contract (far short of the 90-player roster for training camp), the LA Rams still only have $39 million in available salary cap space. Of the five teams currently with under 30 players under contract for 2024, only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have less money to spend, and that could change.

That means that before the LA Rams front office elected to bite the bullet now and clear so much spending, the team was over their 2024 projected salary cap by a sum of $25 million or more. And it was spent on about a third of the eventual 90-man roster. So yes, the Rams front office had to act at some point. But why here, why now? I mean, the Rams only have so many years of Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, and even Cooper Kupp. Why roll the dice on a resetting of their roster in 2023?

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Blame the 2023 NFL Draft

The LA Rams are not a team run by knee-jerk reactions. The team, despite the appearance of being reactionary to high-risk-high-reward opportunities that suddenly appear, is a very long-range and strategic type of team. This is an organization that assembled the final pieces for the Rams roster that would go on to win Super Bowl LVI just days before the final game. The team traded for OLB Von Miller, signed FA wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., and then lured DB Eric Weddle out of a two-year retirement to compete once more.

And it all worked.

That same strategic mindset sees the opportunity to reload this LA Rams roster with four years worth of very inexpensive but very talented rookies as another high risk-high reward opportunity and the front office is doing what it has done all along, seizing that opportunity.

If you can believe the reports from NFL Draft analysts about the 2023 NFL rookie draft class, this is a class that is shy of elite players, but bursting at the seams of very talented players who can start at the NFL level in a number of positional groups. The 2023 rookie class is loaded with edge rushers, cornerbacks, and offensive tackles, all of whom are high on the LA Rams shopping list this year.

All aboard the Rams roster

The LA Rams have been keen on loading up on talent when the talent is there. In 2020, the Rams signed four undrafted defensive linemen to the roster, and two of them are still with the team: Michael Hoecht and Jonah Williams.

Even now, conservative estimates for the Rams to load up on rookies run anywhere from 35-40 rookies additions to the roster. That translates into not only the Rams selecting 11 or more rookies in the 2023 NFL Draft, but also signing nearly a full offensive and defense to the roster after the 2023 NFL Draft concludes. Some believe that the Rams will use their 11 picks and trade up for four or five key rookies in the draft. But if they swing and miss with those few selections?

I expect a completely different strategy. I believe that the Rams will try to max out the number of picks they make in the the Top -150 picks, and if unable to do that, max the number of picks in the 2023 NFL Draft. Even if the Rams pick 16 rookies from this draft, they will still be on track to sign 20-30 undrafted rookies after the draft.

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The LA Rams have a reputation for going All-In. But this year, it appears that the team is gambling heavily on loading up with rookies to replenish a depleted Rams roster. Will this unprecedented gamble on the Rams draft pay off? Never bet against LA Rams GM Les Snead.