If you have been living under a rock for the last couple months following the Super Bowl, you have missed a ton of changes in the NFL. There is a new catch rule, Robert Griffin III came back and the Los Angeles Rams have added several good players via trade and free agency. Aqib Talib, Marcus Peters, Sam Shields, Ndamukong Suh and now Brandin Cooks are all a part of a team that was already 11-5 the previous year.
However, while on paper this may look like a team to beat, the Rams have already signed their death sentence.
The first problem that jumps out is the fact that three out of these five additions are known to have the biggest egos in the entire league. Ndamukong Suh stomps on people, Marcus Peters throws flags in the stands and Aqib Talib likes to rip Michael Crabtree’s chains. Add all three of these players to a locker room that is led by a 32-year-old head coach in only his second NFL season at that position, and a meltdown could be on the horizon.
Leadership in the locker room is another huge issue with the Rams. Usually teams look at their quarterback as their captain, but Jared Goff is coming into just his third season and does not seem to be the emotional type of leader that most teams have. If Goff struggles out of the gates, these added players could lose faith in their quarterback and throw in the towel for the rest of the season.
The Rams do not have to go all-in
With these moves taking place, it seems that the Rams feel that they need to add more talent to their roster, sacrificing pieces of their future (23rd overall pick) to improve short term. This is not the smart move. Sure, the Rams are in a division with the Seahawks and the much-improved San Francisco 49ers; but they have the ammunition to finish on the top of the division, even without the players named before.
The Rams have one of the strongest and most youthful cores in the entire league. After the 53-man cutdown last September, the Rams had the second youngest roster in the entire league. It is not like the LA is in rebuilding mode either, they have a very good young quarterback in Goff, a superstar running back in Gurley and a stud on the defensive line in Aaron Donald to build around. Instead, the Rams are mortgaging their future on risky players with a history of trouble.
What about the $$$?
Not only are they mortgaging their future draft picks, but the Rams are also going to be in a whirlwind of trouble when the next couple free agency periods come around. Ndamukong Suh is going to be due for an extension at the end of the season and if the Rams feel he is in their future plans, they will have to feed him buckets of money. Brandin Cooks is also due for a long-term extension and the Rams are going to take a huge cap hit along with him.
Other than those two additions, the Rams are going to have to make some decisions with their core players. Todd Gurley is a top-five running back in the NFL and is going to get paid like it very shortly. Also coming up is Jared Goff’s mega-quarterback deal.
The last contract extension looming around the corner is probably the most important – Aaron Donald. Donald is arguably the best defensive tackle in the league and the most valuable player on the entire roster. This is the same player who was spending their offseason dodging knives as practice for getting around offensive linemen. The Rams are going to have their hands full with spreading the wealth.
This has not worked before
Yes, the Rams made moves that propel their roster on paper to a top-four team in the entire NFL. This plan could easily work in their favor, and they could win their first Super Bowl since 2000. With Peters and Cooks ready to hit their prime, these look like moves that a general manager cannot pass up.
As an Eagles fan however, I feel like I have heard this plan put into place before. I definitely recall a time where Ronnie Brown, Nnamdi Asomugha, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin and of course Vince Young were self-proclaimed the forsaken “dream team” because of the Eagles off-season moves. The dream team as many know was an abrupt failure setting a blueprint for exactly how to not win a Super Bowl. Teams do not win Super Bowls in free agency and they never will. The Rams are just going to have to learn the hard way, meaning an 8-8 season is upon them.