Rams face multiple challenges to aspire to repeat as champions

Los Angeles must resolve its salary-cap conflicts after betting big on reaching — and winning — Super Bowl LVI

THOUSAND OAKS — Los Angeles Rams they went to great lengths with bold trades and bold signings to secure their appearance on the Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, the $5 billion handiwork of team owner Stan Kroenke.

And it worked.

In his fifth season under the command of Sean McVaywho at 36 is still the youngest head coach in the NFL, the rams won their third division title, second conference title and lifted the Lombardi Trophy with a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in the Super Bowl LVI.

cooper kupp he was named the game’s MVP, capping a historic season in which he became the fourth player since the 1970 merger to win the “Triple Crown” as the league’s leader in receptions, receiving yards, and touchdown receptions. Kuppdefensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey were named to the first-team All-Pro.

Moves that once seemed far-fetched, if not desperate given the cost and draft capital they paid, have proven to be worth it, at least for now.

That includes the impressive deal that happened in January 2021 that sent quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks and one third-round pick to the Detroit Lions in exchange for the quarterback. matthew stafford. Another big deal before the trade deadline in November 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. on a one-year free agent deal after being released by the Cleveland Browns.

beckham The anterior cruciate ligament of the left knee was torn in the superbowl after scoring the first touchdown of the game while Miller and donald led a quarterback rush that sacked Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow seven times, tying a career record. superbowl.

Projected salary cap space: $8,006,535 over the projected limit

Top free agents: WR beckham, MillerCB Darious Williams, RG Austin Corbett, C Brian Allen, OT Joe Noteboom

Possible candidates for court: No, the rams they won’t cut left tackle Andrew Whitworth outright, but both sides could decide retirement would be best given salary-cap limitations. Whitworth has one season remaining on his 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 that gap in Noteboom, who will be an unrestricted free agent after four seasons as Whitworth’s backup.

The biggest question: will they come back McVay and donald? two days before McVay became the youngest head coach to win a superbowl, openly pondered 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 after sources reiterated to ESPN what McVay has considered a move to broadcast booths as a narrator. the future of donald suddenly became uncertain with a report before the superbowl that could be removed if rams they won.

What you should know: The rams they will have work to do to make their roster work against the salary cap. Stafford he is entering the final season of a five-year, $135 million deal and is scheduled for an extension. While that will be costly for the ramsbecause the veteran of 13 seasons has shown that he is not only capable of winning in the playoffs but of leading a team to the title of superbowlcould also provide some salary-cap relief to spread out the numbers of Stafford for several seasons.

The best scenario for the team’s offseason: McVay and donald they come back and rams they continue to work their magic to find creative ways to make room for all of their stars under the salary cap. That really comes down to finding a way to rehire Miller and beckhamwho have expressed an interest in staying in The Angels.

Worst-case scenario for the team’s offseason: Unable to find creative solutions to their salary-cap problems, rams lose free agents Miller, beckham, Williams and two starters on their offensive line, Allen and Corbett, who can earn more elsewhere. Although the game of beckham 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, at least. Losing one or both of McVay or donald would be disastrous, too, especially with offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell — once a logical candidate to replace McVay— accepting the Minnesota Vikings head coaching job.

First look at the draft, from the analyst of ESPNJordan Reid: After winning the superbowlthere could be a lot of moving parts with the staff of the rams. Replacing Andrew Whitworth, Brian Allen and Austin Corbett on the offensive line could be options, but GM Les Snead could also fill in with young talent to create depth.

Main needs: OL, DL, DB

Highest pick in the draft: Compensatory in the third round (the turn has not been determined)

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Rams face multiple challenges to aspire to repeat as champions