SoFi Stadium isn’t the only project the Rams are working on this offseason
Reconstruction of the team that did not reach the playoffs for the first time in coach Sean McVay’s three seasons is only beginning.
“There was some great in 2019, there was some bad, there was some OK,” Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said Wednesday after a tour of SoFi Stadium. “And we have to figure out how we get back to the level that we’ve been normally accustomed to the past two years under Sean.
“It’s been great to have three straight winning seasons and two division titles and a Super Bowl run, but this year wasn’t up to our standards.”
The Rams in 2019 could not escape the fate of numerous teams that faltered the season after losing in the Super Bowl. They finished 9-7 and were surpassed in the NFC West by the Super Bowl-bound San Francisco 49ers and the second-place Seattle Seahawks.
McVay wasted little time making significant moves: He did not renew the contracts of defensive coordinator Wade Phillips or running backs coach Skip Peete. A few days later, he hired Brandon Staley, a linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos the last three seasons, as Phillips’ replacement.
McVay also hired former Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell as a nonplay-calling offensive coordinator. But McVay still must replace special-teams coordinator John Fassel and Peete, both now members of the Dallas Cowboys staff under new coach Mike McCarthy.
On Wednesday, Demoff declined to discuss the Rams coaching staff, saying he would defer to McVay to address the subject when it was complete.
General manager Les Snead has said that a “different formula” for remaking the Rams would be necessary now that the franchise is no longer in the financial window they used to their advantage when quarterback Jared Goff was playing on a rookie contract.
In the last 19 months, Goff, running back Todd Gurley, receiver Brandin Cooks and defensive lineman Aaron Donald received massive extensions. Cornerback Jalen Ramsey, acquired in a midseason trade that cost the Rams first-round draft picks in 2020 and 2021, also is in line for a potential record-breaking deal.
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, center-guard Austin Blythe, edge rusher Dante Fowler, linebacker Cory Littleton, defensive lineman Michael Brockers, kicker Greg Zuerlein and backup quarterback Blake Bortles are pending unrestricted free agents.
The Rams have six draft picks, none in the first round, a number that could increase to as many as eight if they are awarded compensatory picks for the departures of free-agent offensive lineman Rodger Saffold and safety Lamarcus Joyner after last season. The Rams have one pick each in the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh rounds.
Next month, Rams officials and coaches will attend the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. Free agency starts in March. The draft is in late April.
“We have a ton of decisions to make,” Demoff said.
SoFi Stadium, the under-construction home of the Rams and Chargers, continues to move toward completion, but what impact will it have on Inglewood?
The Rams also will unveil a logo and redesigned uniform combinations in the months leading up to the opening of the stadium, which will host a Taylor Swift concert July 25.
After four seasons as a temporary tenant at the USC-controlled Coliseum, the Rams finally will play in owner Stan Kroenke’s privately financed stadium that they will share with the Chargers.
“I always view 2020 as the end of the relocation, the beginning of the next chapter of the Rams and everything that everybody has asked questions about for years comes to true fruition,” Demoff said. “But for the football team it’s just the next year after 2019.”
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