Use them picks: Rams tapping brakes on trading draft picks for players

Use them picks: Rams tapping brakes on trading draft picks for players

Since hiring Sean McVay as their head coach in 2017, the Los Angeles Rams have made more trades for veteran players than anyone. They’ve acquired marquee names such as Jalen Ramsey, Von Miller, Matthew Stafford and Brandin Cooks, often using their draft capital to bring aboard proven players.

The phrase “F them picks” became synonymous with the Rams because of how they’ve used their draft capital in recent years.

There’s no denying it’s worked because in six seasons under McVay, the Rams have reached the Super Bowl twice and won it once. But as they look ahead to the 2023 season, it’s clear there will be a philosophy shift this year.

The Rams are going from “F them picks” to “Use them picks.”

During his pre-free agency press conference, Les Snead suggested the Rams will tap the brakes on that aggressive strategy this offseason. Instead, they’re going to use their picks to add rookies instead of pricey veterans.

“Well maybe in the past we’ve used draft capital to maybe go get a veteran player knowing that veteran player’s going to cost a certain amount, we could actually fit him under our cap situation,” Snead said. “So with that being said, in this situation, maybe you don’t use draft capital to get a veteran player, but instead you use the capital to draft, let’s call it, normal rookies. With that being said, again, rookies help in the cap situation based on the salary structures and also in an intentionality of when you do have a core layer of veterans who are getting into their prime and on the other side of the prime, you definitely want to be ready to replenish it. So that would be a good example of that and we’ve seen it. Stepping on the gas or pressing the gas or using the brakes a little bit more. I’m not saying one or the other is better. We’ve seen teams engineer their rosters in many different ways.”

As much as people argue that the salary cap isn’t real, Snead’s comments go against that idea – even as a general manager who has done such a brilliant job navigating the cap over the years to construct a roster full of stars. There are ways to kick the can down the road, so to speak, and put off salary cap charges, but those moves are starting to catch up to the Rams.

The Rams are currently projected to be about $14 million over the cap, which will need to change by March 15 when the new league year begins; every team must be under the cap by then. Even after the Rams do get under the cap, they’ll need to clear space to sign free agents – either their own or outside players – as well as their draft class.

So Snead wants to have a “healthier cap situation” to sort out the roster and set the team up for success not only this year, but in future years.

“I think what the big picture is this year, different than probably the past five years for us, we definitely have to engineer a healthier cap situation just because obviously we’re not in a luxury tax situation so we can’t pay our dues annually. We can push them out, they can compound,” he said. “So we have elected, based on the cap and based on what we’ve done – our DNA is to attack, hit the gas. We’re going to hit the brakes a little bit. That does not change how we’re going to approach the season, how we’re going to approach the day-to-day, but it will definitely change how we approach constructing the roster.”

The Rams are still going to try to win in 2023. They’re not tanking for a higher draft pick in 2024 like some have suggested they will. But this offseason, we probably won’t see them pursuing stars on the trade market or in free agency.

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Story originally appeared on Rams Wire