Los Angeles Rams 2024 NFL offseason primer: Sean McVay and Co. could be back in contention quickly

Los Angeles Rams' 2023 season: 10-7, lost in wild card

Overview: After whispers of retirement last offseason, head coach Sean McVay led the Rams to a bounce-back season and playoff berth, revitalizing the franchise's prospects of competing for a championship again in the near future. Matthew Stafford surged back among the league's top 10 quarterbacks (in QBR, success rate and adjusted net yards per attempt, among other things) and Puka Nacua set rookie records with 105 receptions and 1,486 receiving yards.

Perhaps just as importantly, Los Angeles hit on multiple draft picks, including a pair of standout 2023 third-rounders in linebacker Byron Young and nose tackle Kobie Turner. And the Rams, infamously team "f*** them picks," are actually on track to make a first-round draft selection this spring for the first time since 2016. Don't tempt general manager Les Snead, though.

The Rams can't count on another All-Pro season from Aaron Donald, who announced his retirement Friday, ending a Hall of Fame career.

(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)
(Taylor Wilhelm/Yahoo Sports)

Key free agents

QB Carson Wentz
CB Ahkello Witherspoon
S John Johnson III
WR Demarcus Robinson (re-signed to one-year deal)

Who's in/out: Guard Kevin Dotson was the big name to watch as Pro Football Focus' No. 2-graded guard last season. The Rams paid up to keep the 27-year-old, agreeing on a three-year, $48 million deal according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. Keeping Robinson on a cheap one-year deal is also a win.

It was a good 2023 for Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and the Rams. Now they turn their attention toward the offseason. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
It was a good 2023 for Sean McVay, Matthew Stafford and the Rams. Now they turn their attention toward the offseason. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

Key free-agent needs

Edge rusher
Offensive line

Why the holes? It's impossible to replace Aaron Donald. And as promising as last season was, the Rams' defense trended toward the bottom quarter of the league in total EPA and pressure rate, so an edge rusher to go with Kobie Turner on the interior would be a wise investment. Los Angeles made a needed addition by striking a deal for Darious Williams, while also reportedly adding guard Jonah Jackson and planning to re-sign Dotson and tackle A.J. Jackson. The Rams also added some help in the passing game by reaching a deal with tight end Colby Parkinson.

Do they have the money?

The Rams are in good shape with the salary cap, coming in at a projected $10.7 million under the cap, according to Spotrac.

Potential notable cuts

OT Joseph Noteboom

Why they might be gone: Before restructuring his deal this week, per an ESPN report, Noteboom was entering the final year of a three-year extension he signed in 2022. He was scheduled to have a $20 million cap hit despite being limited with injuries.

The team released center Brian Allen, meanwhile, to save $4.9 million in cap room.

Draft picks

1st round: No. 19
2nd round: No. 52
3rd round: No. 83
3rd round: No. 98 (compensatory)
5th round: No. 153
5th round: No. 154 (from Steelers)
6th round: No 195
6th round: No. 209 (compensatory)
6th round: No. 213 (compensatory)
6th round: No. 217 (compensatory)
7th round: No. 254 (compensatory)

Good draft fit

Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Why him? There figures to be a number of good options at cornerback for the Rams with the 19th overall pick (if they keep it), and Mitchell might end up the best of the bunch anyway. He's an outstanding athlete, according to Yahoo Sports NFL Draft expert Nate Tice, and a ballhawk to boot, with a four-interception game and two career pick 6s at Toledo.

What can move the fantasy football needle this offseason?

The Rams quietly led the NFL in yards per play (6.7) when Matthew Stafford, Kyren Williams, Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua were on the field last season. Kupp could be healthier in 2024, when the Rams should bring back most of their offense, including coach Sean McVay and OC Mike LaFleur. Nacua had one of the best rookie seasons in NFL history and will be a first-round fantasy pick in 2024, while Williams will go shortly thereafter. Expect Los Angeles to address the backup running back position given Williams’ durability issues, but McVay will continue to use his feature back heavily. Demarcus Robinson emerged as LA’s WR3 down the stretch, but he’s an unrestricted free agent, so Tutu Atwell will see a boost if Robinson leaves. The Rams are a fantasy offense to target next year with their stars set to return. — Dalton Del Don