PHOENIX — Final year, the Los Angeles Rams identified a window to go all-in, obtain the ideal players readily available to round out a talented roster and make a deep playoff run.
The outcome: a Super Bowl look for the very first time in 17 seasons, although it ended in a 13-three loss to the New England Patriots.
As the Rams prepare for the 2019 season, the window remains wide open, even as coach Sean McVay emphasizes the complicated nature of a repeat run.
“Individuals say, ‘Well, you are going to be back,'” McVay mentioned at the NFL’s annual meetings. “But it really is not like that.”
Even so, with the return of many stars and minimal turnover in beginning positions, it is inside the realm of possibility. A number of teams spanning the previous 3 decades, such as the Patriots, Seattle Seahawks, Denver Broncos, Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers, have produced consecutive Super Bowl appearances.
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The Rams have the talent and price range to join the list.
“Any time you have a young head coach and a young quarterback, somewhat young core players, you happen to be in the window to do some of the points that we’ve talked about,” basic manager Les Snead mentioned. “And you happen to be generally navigating that primarily based on who comes on the roster and who comes off it.”
Coming off a 13-three season and back-to-back division titles, the Rams return star playmakers Aaron Donald, a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year quarterback Jared Goff, a two-time Pro Bowl choice and operating back Todd Gurley, a two-time All-Pro. Plus, a couple of essential additions have been produced in no cost agency.
Let’s appear at the defense.
Ahead of the legal tampering period, the Rams secured a bargain in a hot industry for pass-rushers when they signed outdoors linebacker Dante Fowler Jr. to a a single-year contract worth up to $12 million. Fowler began 11 games final season just after the Rams acquired him from the Jacksonville Jaguars at the trade deadline. He proved himself beneficial, particularly in the NFC Championship Game, in which he pressured New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees into an errant pass that resulted in an interception and spurred the Rams to an overtime win.
The Rams also have added veteran security Eric Weddle on a two-year, $12.78 million contract and veteran outdoors linebacker Clay Matthews on a two-year, $9.three million deal.
Weddle’s addition will soften the loss of Lamarcus Joyner, who departed for the Oakland Raiders in no cost agency. A 12-year veteran, Weddle is in the twilight of his profession, and it remains to be noticed just after a season in which he developed no interceptions no matter whether he nevertheless has elite playmaking capacity.
Matthews, a 10-year pro who also has restricted seasons remaining, knows how to win a Super Bowl. Offered his practical experience playing inside and outdoors, he can deliver flexibility in defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ three-four scheme.
But maintaining in thoughts that the draft is but to come, concerns stay on the defense. Who will plug the hole left by Ndamukong Suh? The defensive tackle is not anticipated to return due to the fact of budgetary constraints (the Rams have about $four.eight million remaining in their salary cap, according to ESPN Roster Management). If promoted to a starter, will second-year pro Micah Kiser suffice in spot of inside linebacker Mark Barron, who was released to save $six.33 million in salary?
On offense, couple of adjustments are anticipated on a unit that ranked second in the NFL in scoring final season, averaging 32.9 points per game.
Goff is getting into Year four of his rookie contract, which permits for sources to be spent elsewhere. But a large payday is most likely on the horizon, as he has steadily climbed the quarterback rankings. Final season, he not only recorded a best passer rating in a Week four win more than the Minnesota Vikings but also completed the season with four,688 yards, 32 touchdowns and 12 interceptions and helped orchestrate a come-from-behind win in the NFC Championship Game.
Goff’s go-to targets return, notably Gurley and receivers Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp, who will be coming off a season-ending knee injury. Final season, the 3 receivers had been every on pace to record 1,00 getting yards, and Cooks and Woods reached the mark.
Final season, Gurley rushed for much more than 1,00 yards for a second consecutive season and added a league-ideal 21 touchdowns, although concerns about the lengthy-term durability of his left knee stay. “It is very good,” McVay mentioned when asked about the status of Gurley’s knee at the owners meetings.
Beside Gurley’s knee, the most significant query looming on offense is how it will operate with no two essential veteran players. Left guard Rodger Saffold departed for the Tennessee Titans in no cost agency, and the Rams did not choose up the second-year selection on center John Sullivan’s contract.
The selection to move on from Sullivan and the loss of Saffold can not be overstated. They contributed on the only offensive line to preserve the very same 5 starters all through the season, and they had been amongst the major-rated groups in the league.
But the Rams entered final year’s draft preparing particularly for the line’s future when they chosen Joseph Noteboom from TCU in the third round and Brian Allen from Michigan State in the fourth round. Noteboom is anticipated to start out in spot of Saffold, and Allen will take more than for Sullivan. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth’s selection to hold off retirement eases the transition.
“Coming out of this season, what we do know is we can win back-to-back divisions. What we did not know just after the ’17 season was, can we win a playoff game?” Snead mentioned. “This year, we know that we can. … The large-image answer to the query: We know what we’re capable of, but 2019 is diverse than ’18.”
Right after this season, almost everything could alter. The contracts of Whitworth and cornerback Aqib Talib are set to expire, along with that of defensive lineman Michael Brockers.
The Rams surely will have to spend Goff, and contract choices have to be produced on the young core, which consists of probable paydays for correct guard Austin Blythe, cornerback Marcus Peters, linebacker Cory Littleton and security John Johnson III, who intercepted a group-ideal 4 passes final season and could not support but smile when asked for the duration of no cost agency if he noticed the dollars doled out to safeties.
But these are troubles for the future.
For now, it really is Super Bowl or bust — once again.