Los Angeles Rams NFL Offseason Preview: Navigating the Salary Cap, It’ll Take Attrition to Rerun It

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams went to great lengths with bold trades and bold signings to secure an appearance in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, owner Stan Kroenke’s $5 billion masterpiece.

And it worked.

In his fifth season under Sean McVay, who at 36 is still the youngest head coach in the NFL, the Rams won a third division title, a second conference championship and captured the Lombardi Trophy with a 23-game victory. 20 over the Cincinnati Bengals in Superbowl LVI.

Cooper Kupp was named the game’s MVP, capping a historic season in which he became the fourth player since the 1970 merger to earn the “Triple Crown” as the league leader in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were named first-team All-Pros.

Moves that once seemed far-fetched, if not far-fetched given the cost and working capital given up, have proven worthwhile, at least for now.

That includes the blockbuster deal that took place in January 2021 that sent quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-round pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for quarterback Matthew Stafford. Another mega deal before the November trade deadline sent a second- and third-round pick to the Denver Broncos to acquire All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller. A week later, the Rams signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to a one-year free agent contract following his release from the Cleveland Browns.

• Ranking of the top 50 free agents »
• 32 teams, 32 free agent decisions »
• Best team settings » | The best WRs available »
• Review levels » | Off-Season Priorities »
More NFL free agency coverage »

Beckham tore the ACL in his left knee in the Super Bowl after scoring the game’s first touchdown, while Miller and Donald led a passing rush that sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times, tying a Super Bowl record.

Projected Salary Cap Space: $8,006,535 above projected cap

Top free agents: WR Beckham, Miller, CB Darious Williams, RG Austin Corbett, C Brian Allen, OT Joe Noteboom

Possible court candidates: No, the Rams won’t cut left tackle Andrew Whitworth outright, but the two sides could decide it would be best to retire due to salary-cap limitations. Whitworth has one season left on a three-year, $30 million deal and an exit from his contract could save the Rams $15.5 million against the salary cap. They also have an option lined up to fill the void in Noteboom, who will be an unrestricted free agent after four seasons as Whitworth’s backup.

The great question: Will McVay and Donald return? Two days before McVay became the youngest head coach to win a Super Bowl, he openly reflected on his future as he discussed trying to find the ideal work-life balance as he prepares to marry and start a family. . Those comments came on the heels of sources reiterating to ESPN that McVay has considered moving into the broadcast booth. Donald’s future suddenly became uncertain with a pre-Super Bowl report that he might retire if the Rams win, a possibility he didn’t refute later.

What you need to know: The Rams will have work to do to make their roster work against the salary cap. Stafford is entering the final season of a five-year, $135 million contract and is due an extension. While that will be costly for the Rams, given that the 13-year pro has now shown that he is capable of not only winning in the playoffs but also leading a team to a Super Bowl title, he could also provide some relief in the salary cap to spread Stafford’s numbers over multiple seasons

Best scenario for the team’s offseason: McVay and Donald return and the Rams continue to work their magic to find creative ways to make room for all their stars under the salary cap. That really comes down to finding a way to re-sign Miller and Beckham, both of whom have expressed interest in staying in Los Angeles.

Worst case scenario for the team’s offseason: Unable to come up with creative solutions to their salary-cap problems, the Rams lose free agents Miller, Beckham, Williams and two starters on their offensive line, Allen and Corbett, who have the ability to earn more elsewhere. While Beckham’s departure wouldn’t be devastating with Robert Woods set to return from his November knee injury, it will be hard to find replacements for Miller, Williams and Allen, to say the least. Losing either or both McVay or Donald would also be disastrous, especially with offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, once a logical candidate to replace McVay, taking the Minnesota Vikings coaching job.

Preview of the NFL draft, from ESPN analyst Jordan Reid: After winning the Super Bowl, there could be a lot of moving parts with the Rams’ personnel. Replacing Andrew Whitworth, Brian Allen and Austin Corbett along the offensive line could be options, but GM Les Snead could also replenish young talent to create depth along the defensive line.

Main needs: OL, DL, DB

First option: Round 3 compensatory (selection to be determined)

We want to thank the writer of this write-up for this incredible material

Los Angeles Rams NFL Offseason Preview: Navigating the Salary Cap, It’ll Take Attrition to Rerun It