After the shortest offseason in NFL history last year, the Los Angeles Rams will have an extra month to prepare for next season following their 5-12 campaign that left them way short of a playoff berth. It’s going to be a very long offseason in L.A., both literally and figuratively.
Not even a week removed from their season-ending loss to the Seahawks, there are already questions about the future of this team – beginning with head coach Sean McVay. With cap concerns and a lack of draft capital, getting back to the playoffs in 2023 could be a challenge.
Here are the eight biggest questions facing the Rams this spring and summer.
Will Sean McVay be back?
It’s scary to say the Rams don’t even know who their head coach will be in 2023. McVay is contemplating retirement after enduring a tough season, potentially needing some time away from coaching. He has yet to make a final decision, but there’s a very real possibility that he steps away from the Rams for at least a year.
If he does, the front office will need to hire a new head coach and it won’t be easy to find someone who can seamlessly replace the Super Bowl-winning 36-year-old. Ideally, McVay will return and lead what will hopefully be a bounce-back season, but that’s far from certain to happen.
Who will be the offensive coordinator?
One thing we do know is the Rams need a new offensive coordinator. Liam Coen accepted a job as Kentucky’s OC and QBs coach, returning to Lexington after just one year with the Rams. It’s become an annual tradition for the Rams to replace at least one coordinator, so this is nothing new.
Thomas Brown would be a logical candidate, as would Zac Robinson – both in-house promotions for guys already on the Rams’ coaching staff. But if McVay sticks around, perhaps he’ll want to bring in a more experienced coordinator who he feels more comfortable delegating to. Kliff Kingsbury, maybe?
Is Raheem Morris on his way out?
Morris has already landed two interviews for head coaching jobs with the Colts and Broncos, the second straight offseason he’s gotten looks from outside teams. If McVay stays, Morris might be inclined to jump at the opportunity to become a head coach again, thus leaving the Rams.
He’s certainly deserving of a chance to be a head coach and McVay would endorse him without question, but losing another coordinator would throw another wrench into the offseason plans for Los Angeles.
Will Aaron Donald return if McVay doesn’t?
This is another big domino that will only fall once McVay makes his decision. Donald said last summer that had McVay retired, he wouldn’t have returned for 2022. That raises some serious questions about his future in Los Angeles if McVay steps away this year.
Donald would be walking away from $18.5 million in 2023 if he retires before the third day of the new league year, but if the Rams plan to rebuild without McVay, Donald may not want to stick around for it.
He’s chasing rings, not a roster overhaul.
Will Matthew Stafford’s neck be 100 percent healthy?
Stafford said he’s looking forward to a healthy offseason, indicating he won’t need surgery on his spinal cord contusion – which sounds like a bad injury. He even said it’ll be nice to be healthy for OTAs after dealing with thumb and elbow issues the last two years.
All signs point toward Stafford being good to go for 2023, but there will be looming questions about his longevity after the rough season he just endured. A soon-to-be 35-year-old quarterback with a neck injury isn’t exactly the most confidence-inspiring thing.
What is the biggest roster need?
The Rams have a lot of holes that need to be filled this year and it’ll be tough to decide which ones are the biggest. The offensive line needs work, the pass rush is a major concern, the receiving corps is concerning outside of Cooper Kupp, Tyler Higbee is an aging tight end, Nick Scott and Taylor Rapp are both free agents and Jalen Ramsey is the only surefire starter at cornerback.
As of now, the offensive line looks like the biggest problem. The defense was at least good enough to win games despite a lack of talent at outside linebacker, but the offense fell apart without a consistent offensive line. That has to be priority No. 1, and the front office can’t just sit idly by expecting last year’s group to be better when healthy.
How will the Rams clear cap space?
This could get painful. Currently, Los Angeles is projected to be $8.4 million over the cap, so moves will need to be made. That could involve cuts, trades and restructures. The Rams could make someone like Higbee a post-June 1 cut to save $6.25 million in cap space, while Floyd could be in the same situation; he’d save the Rams $15.5 million. Trading Allen Robinson would save them $15.25 million, too.
There will be ways to free up space, but not all of them will be easy. There will be some really tough decisions that need to be made this offseason.
Will Les Snead remain aggressive?
Snead and the Rams have been one of the most aggressive teams in the NFL for the last six years, but with their Super Bowl window closing, they could shift gears. Will Snead keep pushing the envelope by acquiring proven veterans for draft picks? Or will the Rams keep their picks and use them to add young talent that they can develop for years to come?
Even during a tough season, they tried to trade picks for Brian Burns and Christian McCaffrey. Thankfully, that didn’t pan out, but the all-in mindset might still be there for this front office.