By Eric Ronnebeck
Continuing with our weekly articles on the offseasons of the other teams in the NFC West, this week we take a look at the Los Angeles Rams of St. Louis. Technically they’re the Los Angeles Rams but since they’ll be playing one final year in St. Louis, I didn’t know what to call them. Alternatively, it’s pretty cool that the fans in Los Angeles get their football team returned to them after 21 years. Maybe there’s hope for the Supersonics returning after all, but I digress… With a new stadium on the horizon in Los Angeles and a new (old) fan base to impress, here’s what the Rams offseason has looked like.
Relocation: Okay, it’s already been stated that the Rams are headed back to Los Angeles at the end of the 2016 season but this causes a ripple effect within the franchise. It’s too early to say which way those ripples will go but a lame duck year in St. Louis isn’t going to attract high caliber free agents and if a team has to start at the bottom while moving into a new city, well that’s just as bad as being an expansion team. This doesn’t bode well for head coach Jeff Fisher and general manager Les Snead either, who are playing the long game in getting the Rams back to the playoffs.
Draft: The biggest splash of the 2016 NFL Draft was no doubt made by the Rams when they traded a bevy of picks (six in total) to the Tennessee Titans for the number one overall pick (as well as fourth and sixth round picks). With that pick, they selected their quarterback of the future, Jared Goff out of California. In the fourth round of the draft, the Rams added players to aid and grow with Goff: tight end Tyler Higbee out of Western Kentucky and wide receiver Pharoh Cooper out of South Carolina. With their final three picks in the draft they added a linebacker as well as another tight end and another wide receiver. The Rams had needs to fill in the passing game and they spent five of their six picks addressing those needs.
Wild Card: Free agency, or lack thereof. The Rams added cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, mostly to replace a cornerback they lost, Janoris Jenkins. They lost another member of their secondary, safety Rodney McLeod, to the Eagles. McLeod was a very good safety for the Rams and I think this hurts them more than passive football fans know. The Rams re-signed some of their more productive players, such as Mark Barron and defensive end Eugene Sims but remember, this wasn’t a particularly good team in 2015. The Rams have an uphill battle to becoming relevant again and that hill became steeper this offseason. Drafting a quarterback number one overall may seem like a sure fire way to kick start a franchise but at best there are going to be growing pains. Of course the Rams already know this, just ask Sam Bradford.
The Rams are in rebuilding mode but that shouldn’t make them any less formidable for the 2016 season. They always play the Seahawks close and their rookies could add some dimension to their offensive attack. Having said that, I think 2016 is the year that the Rams fall back to the five or six win total.