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Why Rams general manager Les Snead is saying remodel instead of rebuild

Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, talks to general manager Les Snead on the practice field.
Rams general manager Les Snead, right, is happy to have coach Sean McVay back for another season.
(Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)
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Les Snead celebrated his 52nd birthday Thursday, but the Rams general manager already had received an early present when coach Sean McVay last week informed team officials he would return next season.

So, Snead is moving ahead unencumbered as the Rams attempt to bounce back from their lost season.

A year after winning Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium, the Rams finished 5-12, the worst season-after performance by a champion in NFL history.

During a videoconference with reporters, Snead said, “We did not meet our standard” and several times described his 2023 mission as a “remodel” rather than a rebuild for a team that features highly-paid stars such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

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Snead, the Rams’ general manager since 2012, declined to specify which players could be re-signed, released or dangled as potential trade pieces for a team that will be without a first-round draft pick for the seventh year in row.

“All things are in play, he said.

Jalen Ramsey celebrates his interception with Rams teammate Bobby Wagner.
Jalen Ramsey, left, celebrates his interception with Rams teammate Bobby Wagner.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Some takeaways from the media briefing:

Sigh of relief: For the second year in a row, McVay publicly pondered stepping away from coaching for a team that in 2017 made the then 30-year-old the youngest coach in modern NFL history.

Snead was not surprised.

“The guy’s been basically running an 800-meter sprint every week since he got our job,” Snead said, adding, “Over time, like at some point, you know a hamstring is going to get tight, a hamstring is going to get pulled and you’re not going to be able to do it.”

The Rams were prepared if McVay had opted to step away, Snead said.

“It was more we were talking conceptually about how to evolve our, let’s call it, daily, monthly, annual rhythms to make this a sustainable outfit,” Snead said.

Snead and the Rams can now rest easy … until the end of next season, when McVay almost certainly will revisit taking a break.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis and five other assistant coaches are out as Rams decide to revamp their staff.

About that remodel: The Rams built their Super Bowl roster by trading multiple first-round picks for Ramsey and Stafford and second- and third-round picks for edge rusher Von Miller, who signed with the Buffalo Bills after last season.

And they did it while navigating huge dead money hits for the release of players such as running back Todd Gurley and the trade that sent quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions for Stafford.

Now they are at a crossroads.

“We’re probably going to have to, let’s call it, not press the gas as much and pay a little bit of the debt that we’ve accumulated,” Snead said.

The Rams paid a price this season as players counted on to play key roles suffered injuries or underperformed.

The Rams still have a top-heavy roster but remain in need of top-tier offensive linemen, an edge rusher, an effective complement for Kupp and depth in the secondary.

Snead did not sound as if he were ready to tear apart the roster and start over.

Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys overcame four missed extra-point attempts by Brett Maher in a 31-14 playoff victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We’re very well aware that some of our core players, right, are in their primes and are getting closer to the twilight of their primes,” he said. “But that does not mean, right, when you’re a player like that in your prime that you’re still not very productive and can be very successful.”

Stars are aligned — for now: Stafford, Kupp and Donald, all of whom received extensions or a massive raise after the Super Bowl victory, did not play in the latter part of the 2021 season because of season-ending injuries.

Ramsey did not receive an extension but played in every game.

Right tackle Rob Havenstein signed an extension before the season, and veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner proved a worthwhile investment.

Can the Rams retain the entirety of their core?

Snead declined to say.

“Every year since we’ve been here,” he said, “there’s been moments where we’ve had to say goodbye to key contributors.”

Former Chargers coach Anthony Lynn is now on the San Francisco 49ers staff, which feels like home for him with connections to other staff and players.

On second thought: At a victory rally last February, Snead famously yelled to an adoring crowd, “F them picks. We’ll use them to go win more Super Bowls.”

Snead was referencing the multiple high-round picks the Rams traded to acquire star players.

“I will admit that any time you probably say something like that … you’re going to eat those words at some point in time,” Snead said Thursday, adding that he was having fun with a play off a popular meme. “If we truly believed in effing them picks in that sense of the word, we’d just give them to our division opponents ...

“But we’ve definitely taken the draft serious. We think it’s really the heartbeat, right, of the franchise.”

Snead said he made a “subliminal slip” at the rally.

“I truly intended to say, ‘We effed these picks to win Los Angeles a Super Bowl championship,’” Snead said. “So, I always knew I was going to eat those words at some point.”

Predicting the four winners in the NFL playoff divisional round and who will be advancing to the conference championship games.

Feeling a draft: Because of their historically poor finish this season, the Rams would have owned the sixth pick in the April draft but that belongs to the Lions as part of the Goff-Stafford trade.

With compensation picks for the departure of free agents, Snead projects the Rams will have 10 picks.

But the Rams will not make their first pick until the second round. They also have a third-round pick but the majority fall in the sixth and seventh rounds.

Snead declined to say whether the Rams would give Ramsey an extension or trade him to acquire draft capital. But he is obviously looking forward to 2024 when the Rams finally will have a first-round pick.

“Getting back to having some first-rounders, getting back to having second- and third-rounders will be advantageous,” he said. “Where we’re at, probably from a roster standpoint, that will be healthy for us to add younger players, players on their rookie contracts that are going to become cogs. ...

“We’re going to call this chapter 3 of the Sean McVay era.”


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