The championship-winning core of Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Jalen Ramsey is still together, but they are stumbling through the 2022 season without strong help from the rest of the team.
The Los Angeles Rams assembled their 2021 roster with a single goal in mind: to win the Super Bowl. And the Super Bowl was won by them. However, they are currently paying the costs of putting together a championship-caliber team.
The reigning-champions Rams have now a 4-9 record. Before beating the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday Night Football last week, they had lost six straight games, two of which to the Arizona Cardinals, an NFC West rival, and the New Orleans Saints, teams with a combined 8-18 record. According to bookmakers like 1xbet – of which you can check the 1xbet agent registration to become an affiliated partner – the Rams are essentially eliminated from playoff contention this season.
The team’s executive management made sure that the core quartet of cornerback Jalen Ramsey, quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald remained intact. However, that core is no longer surrounded by a group of accomplished players due to the team’s win-now mentality. The Rams roster is currently being destroyed from the ground up by the same overspending and under-drafting that earned the team its second Super Bowl victory.
Recent roster moves had a long-lasting impact
The Rams lost their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 as well as a 2021 third-round pick in the transaction that sent Stafford from the Detroit Lions to Los Angeles prior to the 2021 season. In March 2022, Stafford agreed to a four-year, $160 million deal.
Three-time All-Pro Ramsey joined the Los Angeles Rams in the middle of the 2019 season from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for the Rams’ 2020 and 2021 first-round picks as well as a 2021 fourth-round pick. In 2020, Ramsey was granted a $105 million, five-year extension.
Donald, a three-time defensive player of the year, ended rumors that he was considering retirement by signing a three-year, $95 million extension in June. A few days later, Kupp, the offensive player of the year in 2021, was awarded a three-year, $80 million extension.
Additionally, the Rams sacrificed a second-round pick in 2022 to hire Von Miller, an All-Pro pass rusher, for a few months last season. In a complex web of transactions to gain more late-round picks, the team traded its first-round pick from 2018 for receiver Brandin Cooks, who is no longer with the team. The team also moved out of the first round in 2019. Therefore, since 2017, the Rams have not made a selection in the top 50 picks of an NFL draft, leaving their roster largely devoid of young talent.
The supporting players, meanwhile, dispersed over the off-season. Andrew Whitworth, a dependable left tackle, retired. In an effort to minimize costs, receiver Robert Woods was dealt to the Tennessee Titans. And Miller departed to Buffalo to give a shot at another championship.
In order to recover from a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament and consider his options, Odell Beckham Jr. became a free agent. Starters with less notoriety, such as defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day and guard Austin Corbett, signed with organizations that could afford to spend more on supporting players.
The Rams did have enough salary cap room to add the six-time All-Pro linebacker Bobby Wagner and receiver Allen Robinson. Nevertheless, the team entered the 2022 season with a few notable players, some of whom were past their prime, and dozens of late-round picks, undrafted rookies, and ex-practice squad players from other teams.
The Rams’ roster-building strategy has been plagued by evident weaknesses the entire season. Before suffering an ankle injury in Week 10, Kupp averaged nine catches for 101.6 yards per game, but Robinson was unable to fill in for Woods and Beckham, and no other playmaker has emerged.
Despite the fact that Donald has five sacks, the Rams are among the poorest teams in this category. The Rams’ pass coverage is at best mediocre since Ramsey fluctuates in performance. The lack of quality at the bottom of the roster is highlighted by two blocked punts and a struggling kick return game.
Taking 29 sacks behind a constantly changing cast of linemen throughout the season, Stafford was in and out of concussion protocol before being placed on injured reserve, practically ending his season. Baker Mayfield was signed as a free agent, after being waived by the Panthers, and despite being able to lead the team to the win over the Raiders, not much is expected from him.
Post-Super Bowl heartbreaks are common because, after winning a title, teams always have to contend with more demanding schedules and less resources. However, no team in history has ever made a lavish mortgage payment on its future as the Rams have.
A Super Bowl triumph counts just as much as any other kind of victory, and banners hang from stadium rafters forever. The Rams may not look back on their decisions, but their current predicament serves as a warning to other teams who may be tempted to jeopardize their futures on a few flashy transactions.
Spending extravagantly on a select few stars and scattering first-round picks like it’s nothing won’t ensure a championship, but it will ensure an eventual, protracted era of depressing hardship.