The Los Angeles Rams were in the Super Bowl just two years ago, but a series of poor decisions have resulted in the destruction of a potential dynasty.
It takes a lot of hard work to build a Super Bowl team, but the Los Angeles Rams managed to accomplish that in the span of a few years.
Under the guidance of general manager Les Snead and hotshot head coach Sean McVay, the Rams went from 4-12 in 2016 to a Super Bowl berth in 2018.
That appearance in Super Bowl LIII resulted in a loss to the New England Patriots, but the future appeared bright for the Rams regardless. Jared Goff had an explosive year on an offense well-stocked with weapons, Wade Phillips’ defense was top-notch, and John Fassel’s special teams unit was one of the best in football.
That group should have been set up to become a dynasty in the NFC, but a series of poor decisions from Snead and the front office have left the Rams in a position where the team is in salary cap hell.
The bad contracts began with Brandin Cooks, who was acquired for a first-round pick from the Patriots prior to 2018. Cooks was handed a massive five-year, $81 million extension but underperformed as a result of chronic concussion problems, leaving the Rams to dump his contract and a fourth-round pick to the Houston Texans for a second-rounder on Thursday night.
Los Angeles also handsomely paid two other members of their offensive core. Todd Gurley got a four-year, $60 million extension (which he never played a down of) and Goff received a massive four-year extension with more than $100 million guaranteed. Gurley played through a knee injury last year and was cut before the big money from his extension kicked in, signing a modest deal with the Atlanta Falcons this spring.
Goff’s contract was handed out after the Super Bowl appearance and has become a huge anchor to the Rams. The deal was given based on the assumption that Goff would ascend into an elite-level quarterback, but he regressed significantly in 2019, tossing 10 fewer touchdowns and four more interceptions than he did in 2018.
The defensive side of the ball has also suffered due to Snead’s desire to pursue shiny objects, which resulted in the Rams’ big deal to acquire Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars in the middle of 2019. Ramsey was causing problems in Jacksonville due to his desire for a new deal, but Los Angeles parted with two first-round picks to get him without even lining up a new contract.
Ramsey is only under contract through 2020, meaning the Rams could risk their own holdouts by slapping a franchise tag on him if a deal can’t get done. To make matters worse Snead dealt away Marcus Peters to clear cap space to acquire Ramsey, getting only a fifth-round pick back from the Baltimore Ravens.
Peters went on to blossom in Baltimore, where the Ravens gave him a contract extension. Salary cap considerations have also played a role in Los Angeles being forced to watch key pieces like Dante Fowler, Cory Littleton, and Rodger Saffold walk in free agency.
As a result of all of Snead’s wheeling and dealing, the Rams will go six full years between first-round picks, which is unheard of in the modern NFL. That kind of draft capital should result in a modern dynasty, but the Rams have completely squandered a Super Bowl team and are headed down a dark path in a tough NFC West.