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Football News

[Off-season 2023] Los Angeles Rams: last round among the stars?

To prepare for an NFL season, it starts with an audit: what are the strengths and weaknesses of the workforce? Then, how to strengthen via the market and the draft? The editorial staff of DNA of Sports invites you to take stock of the off-season of the 32 franchises. Today the Los Angeles Rams

The Rams’ 2022 season looked like a long hangover after winning the Super Bowl in 2021. Indeed, Sean McVay’s team never really got into their season. Between injuries to executive players (Stafford, Kupp, Donald) and poor performance, the Rams have the worst record to date after a Super Bowl for a defending team.

Will she recover from a disastrous season and find the playoffs or dig a little deeper, and thus head for a dotted future? The 2023 season should be a crossroads for a Los Angeles franchise that does not have much margin (no 1st round of Draft, and little money in the payroll).

The owners

1. Aaron Donald (DT)
2. Cooper Kupp (WR)
3. Bobby Wagner (LB)

Of the 3 players mentioned, two were injured for a long time during the 2022 season. But when they are in good shape, they become the best in their position.

For the first time in his career, Aaron Donald has missed games through injury and the team’s sack production has dropped compared to last year (50 in 2021, 38 in 2022). Cooper Kupp has only played 9 games this season and yet he managed to register 7 touchdowns, his team’s top scorer with Cam Akers, who has yet played 15 games. Without him, the Rams offense struggled, with an Allen Robinson failing to recover. Their return, expected in 2023, should give a boost to Los Angeles.

Signed last offseason after being released by the Seahawks, Bobby Wagner has regained his level. He even beat his number of career sacks in one season (6). Still All-Pro in 2022, he floated in a defense that mostly took on water on air cover.

Undesirables

–Tyler Higbee (TE)
– Allen Robinson II (WR)
–Brian Allen (C)

Tyler Higbee is the receiver to have played every game with Brandon Powell, who is more of a return kick specialist. But, in 17 games, the tight-end has scored only 3 touchdowns. For a player who weighs 9 million dollars a year, that’s expensive. Cutting it could give financial flexibility to a Rams team that needs it.

Cutting it would be difficult for him though. But, Allen Robinson disappointed in 2022. He struggled to express himself, even with Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford before the latter’s injuries. The receiver could be available for a trade, but a restructuring seems to be more appropriate in view of his salary (18 million dollars per year).

Author of a very average season in 2021 despite the Super Bowl, Brian Allen did not really rectify the situation in 2022, conceding 4 sacks, while playing center. Rejuvenating this position could be a solution for the Rams during the offseason.

The summer man

– Matthew Stafford (QB)

After sustaining 2 upper body injuries (head and back), what condition will Matthew Stafford be in when the 2023 season kicks off? Under contract until 2026, the Rams quarterback did not see his position threatened during the 2022 season despite the good interim of Baker Mayfield.

The Rams will need quality performances from him to hope to reach a 2nd Super Bowl in three years. Before his injury, his 2022 season was far from a walk in the park (10 touchdowns – 8 interceptions).

If the state of the returns of Aaron Donald and Cooper Kupp is not in doubt because their injury liabilities are almost non-existent, this is not the case. He will be one to watch during training camps.

The main free agents

1. Baker Mayfield (QB)
2. Taylor Rapp (S)
3. Greg Gaines (DT)
4. David Edwards (G)
5. Nick Scott (S)

Other free agents: David Long Jr (CB), Oday Aboushi (OL), Riley Dxon (P), Matt Skura (OL), Malcolm Brown (RB), Brandon Powell (WR/KR), Matt Gay (K)

If Baker Mayfield aspires to run for a starting spot in 2022, it will probably not be at the Rams that he will be able to do so. It should therefore be left free. At the secondary level, if Nick Scott can be replaced quite easily, this is not the case for Taylor Rapp. The safety had one of the best seasons of his career and is one of the leaders of the Rams defense. To see him go would be a loss for Sean McVay.

On the lines, Greg Gaines and David Edwards could sign a new contract but would only be rotation players. Given the payroll of the Rams, it would not be surprising to see one of the two (or even both) players leave.

Top 5 Needs

1. Edge rusher
2. Inside Offensive Line
3. Running back
4.Safety
5.Cornerback

Aaron Donald will need help on the front seven. Leonard Floyd has made 9 sacks this season, but he is inconsistent. The inside offensive line is a yard. David Edwards, Oday Aboushi and Matt Skura out of contract, and Brian Allen potentially cut, this need should be considered a priority to better protect Matthew Stafford and create gaps for Cam Akers.

The team’s best runner last season, the latter is not yet a number 1 runner. Bringing new blood to this position could energize an unproductive ground game in 2022 (26th team in terms of yards). In addition to Taylor Rapp, Nick Scott is also out of contract and Troy Hill is aging, so the safety position should also be filled in the offseason.

To continue with the defensive backs, bringing assistance to the opposite of Jalen Ramsey could also be a need. Cobie Durant showed good things as a rookie, but he’s still too soft. An experienced player might do the trick.

Target

– Zach Allen (DE, Cardinals)
The Cardinals pass rusher had his best season in 2022 with 5.5 sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Seeing him land in a team he knows perfectly because he faces them twice each season since his rookie season would only be beneficial, especially for integration.

Able to play on a defensive line at 3, as at 4, Zach Allen is maturing and could be a good complement to Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd.

Other potential targets: Javon Hargrave (DT), Jordan Poyer (S), Dre’Mont Jones (DT), Ethan Pocic (OL), Mike Gesicki (TE)

The new blood

– John Michael Schmitz (C)
Fluid and sufficiently athletic, the player of Golden Gophers of Minnesota will be 24 when the first game of the 2023 season takes place. That’s good, not having a first round draft, the Rams could invest in a shadow player in the offensive line and who will not need time to adapt.

John Michael Schmitz played center for the last 3 college seasons. But he is capable of playing guard. He is more comfortable in the running game than in pass protection where he conceded 3 sacks in 2022. Showing himself at ease in the Senior Bowl, he will probably be a starting player in week 1 within the team. a team already cut out for the title.

Other potential players: Andrew Worhees (OL), Mazi Smith (DT), Gervon Dexter (DT), Cody Mauch (OL), Luke Wypler (OL), Christopher Smith (S)

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