Too much star-power talk? Rams confident they are built to last

Rams owner Stan Kroenke talks to general manager Les Snead before a game.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke, right, talks to general manager Les Snead before a game between the Rams and San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on Jan. 9.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)
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The Rams’ star power will be on full display Sunday when they play the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Rams general manager Les Snead made sure of that by avidly collecting multiple high-profile players before, during and after the regular season.

In January 2021, Snead pulled off a blockbuster trade for star quarterback Matthew Stafford. Midway through the season, he traded for star outside linebacker Von Miller and signed star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. And on the eve of the playoffs, he helped coax star safety Eric Weddle out of retirement.


Despite going all-in to fulfill a mandate to play in the Super Bowl in owner Stan Kroenke’s $5-billion stadium, Snead said Wednesday that it was a “shallow story” to focus solely on the stars.

“I get it,” he said. “We’re in the entertainment business, and so I understand why that’s interesting.”

The Rams have received solid contributions from many less celebrated players they drafted or traded for and others they signed as undrafted free agents, players “being their best when their best was required,” Snead said, quoting coach Sean McVay.

But the Rams, much like the Dodgers and the New York Yankees under former owner George Steinbrenner, spared no expense to ensure that Kroenke could bask in hosting a Super Bowl in his palace.

In the Rams’ case, much of the cost was draft picks, including multiple first-round draft picks. The Rams have not selected a player in the first round since 2016, when they moved up 14 spots to select quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 pick. Since then, they have traded two first-round picks for star safety Jalen Ramsey in 2019, and two more for Stafford.

The Rams do not have a first-round pick until 2024.

That makes the first night of the NFL draft, “not stressful at all, right?” quipped Snead, who was hired in 2012. “We can actually have fun not having [No.] ones.”


Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, said the Rams’ formula was producing success.

“Maybe that’s not for everybody and maybe it’s not sustainable,” Demoff said of the team’s approach. “Maybe it doesn’t work long term — we seem to figure that out every year — but it’s working right now.”

The Rams choose their spots for how to build a roster and when to make moves, Snead said.

“I don’t know if we look at ourselves as the rest of the league zigging and us zagging,” Snead said, adding, “But maybe that is the case.

“We definitely try to think different and do things a little bit differently.”

Since hiring the then 30-year-old McVay as head coach in 2017, the Rams have made the playoffs in all but one season, and they have advanced to the Super Bowl twice.

Rams coach Sean McVay takes the field before a win over the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game on Jan. 30.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Snead, 51, and McVay, 36, have proven a formidable duo.

“He’s definitely the perfect partner for myself for many reasons,” Snead said.

The feeling is mutual, McVay said, adding that neither treads into the other’s responsibilities.


“We’re not interested in blurring those lines,” McVay said. “We have total trust and confidence in one another. More than anything, we have a real friendship that allows us to be able to have difficult conversations.

“And when we make decisions, we’re in alignment and we move forward accordingly. ... Both he and I are not afraid to take risks even if it means putting yourself out there for expectations.”

Kroenke, Demoff and vice president Tony Pastoors are similarly aligned, McVay said.

“I’m very appreciative to be with people who aren’t afraid to take their swings and shoot their shots,” he said.

Super Bowl strategy: The Bengals have more receiver targets than thin Rams secondary can handle, so a key for L.A. will be not to allow speedy wideouts to gain yards after the catch.

Feb. 9, 2022

On Sunday, a victory over the Bengals would prove that the Rams’ approach and their moves — large and small — paid off.

Snead said that the adrenaline he felt on the day the Rams agreed to send Goff and draft picks to the Detroit Lions for Stafford was “still going to this day.”

But Rams, with “the core and base in place,” are built to win titles beyond this season, Snead said. And there will be more trades, free-agent signings and creativity in the draft.


“Everything we do is not always going to work out,” he said. “But if we actually have enough research, enough data to think, ‘OK, this is the right thing to do right now. This is what we think we should do.’ Let’s do it, right?

“Let’s not let fear of what if it doesn’t work out keep us from maybe getting that edge.”