The National Football League’s new league year began at 4 pm EDT on March 15, kicking off a critical few weeks for the future of the Los Angeles Rams franchise. Wheeling, dealing general manager Les Snead went-for-broke during the Rams’ 2021 season, mortgaging Los Angeles’ future for the next couple of years in assembling a championship-winning roster, trading draft picks with abandon, and racking up future salary cap costs with deferred money and restructured deals.
The moves paid off, so it’s difficult to complain too much if you’re a Rams fan. Still, their championship window wasn’t as long as one might have hoped, as quarterback Matthew Stafford’s career seems to be in purgatory following a troubling elbow injury. Now it’s time for the Rams to pay the piper, with all their offseason moves centered around mitigating the future damage of Snead’s aggressive, championship-winning moves. Here’s a look at what the Rams have done since the new league year started.
First, the headliner. Los Angeles flipped superstar cornerback Jaylen Ramsey to Miami in return for a 2023 third-round pick and tight end Hunter Long. It’s not an ideal move for the Rams to make: it’s better to have one of the best cornerbacks in the league on your team than not, but the writing was on the wall. Ramsay’s contract didn’t have any guaranteed money after the upcoming season, so he wanted a new deal with more guarantees.
Los Angeles couldn’t give him that deal, so they got a pick and a player for their trouble. Ramsay’s demand for a new contract diminished the return so that Los Angeles couldn’t get more for the superstar. Long has just one catch in two NFL seasons: the deal gets a D, but it needed to be done.
The Rams are trading away their All-Pro CB to the Dolphins, which is not something that Patriots fans like to hear. What’s more, it might not even be the most significant trade to go down in the AFC East this offseason: nothing is official yet, but it appears the writing is on the wall for the New York Jets to pick up four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers from the Packers. The Patriots are ranked fourth to win the division this season, at or around +750 at a host of Massachusetts betting apps.
Los Angeles also released a pair of big-name players. The Rams entered the offseason several million dollars over the salary cap, thus having to deplete further a roster that went 5-12 last season before they could even focus on improving the team. Outside linebacker Leonard Floyd and inside linebacker Bobby Wagner got the pink slip officially once the new league year began on March 15. Wagner signed a five-year, $65 million deal last offseason and had an excellent 2022 campaign, compiling 140 total tackles, two interceptions, and a career-high six sacks.
With Los Angeles in a cap crunch (and staring down a full-blown rebuild if the 35-year-old Stafford can’t recover from his elbow issues), however, both sides agreed it was best to move on. Floyd had nine sacks, about par for the course for him, but the Rams again needed to escape from the second half of his four-year, $64 million contract.
While they’re painful to make, they needed to be done: cutting a pair of players on the wrong side of 30 clears Los Angeles of any cap liability, opening up money as the Rams rebuild their roster. With more than 20 players (nearly half the team’s 53-man active roster) hitting the open market when the new league year began, they need all the financial flexibility they can get to field a team in 2023.