The Los Angeles Rams have been the biggest spenders of the 2018 NFL offseason.
Already, the team has brought in Pro Bowl-caliber talent including Ndamukong Suh, Brandin Cooks, Marcus Peters, and Aqib Talib to build out a roster that had already gone 11-5 to win the NFC West in 2017. And it’s not just a one-year push for the Rams — Los Angeles looks to be putting together a core of players that can make a run at the Super Bowl for the next three or four years.
In just the past few weeks, the Rams have extended Cooks with a huge contract that should keep him in Los Angeles as the team’s No. 1 target through 2021 and agreed to an extension with stud running back Todd Gurley for four years, $60 million, with $45 million guaranteed. With those deals in the books, all that’s left is for the Rams to extend their star defensive powerhouse Aaron Donald in one more mega-deal — a move the team should want to get done in the near future.
The Rams are in the midst of a spending spree that many teams across the league wish they could partake in, but Los Angeles has one advantage that sets them apart from most other teams this offseason — a stud quarterback locked in on a rookie deal.
Jared Goff, the first overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, was freed from the mediocrity of Jeff Fisher last season and flourished in 2017 alongside rookie head coach Sean McVay to lead one of the most fearsome offensive attacks in football.
His stellar year essentially served as a signal flag to the franchise — go all-in, right now — due to the nature of NFL contracts and the league’s salary cap.
There’s a market rate set for every position in the league, and quarterbacks lead the way by a wide margin. As ESPN’s Bill Barnwell broke down ahead of the offseason, the highest annual average salary for quarterbacks had cleared $28 million — close to $10 million more than any other position on the field. The Rams currently have Goff on a rookie deal that pays him less than $28 million for four years of service.
Essentially, the Rams have a major discount at the most expensive position in the league, and it works as a huge competitive advantage when building out the rest of their roster. It’s a model similar to that which helped the Seahawks make back-to-back Super Bowls just a few years ago, with Russell Wilson on the books at a discount and the Legion of Boom flourishing into the most dominant defensive unit in the league.
The Eagles used the same strategy to become reigning Super Bowl champions — thanks to Carson Wentz’s discounted contract, the team was able to build a roster strong enough to support backup quarterback Nick Foles en route to the title.
It’s important that the Rams make these moves now, as the window to win a Super Bowl doesn’t always last long. Ironically, if Goff improves exponentially on his already impressive skillset, it might make it more difficult for the Rams to stay competitive once he’s on his next contract and getting paid market rate, simply because there will be less money to build around him.
We don’t yet know whether or not the Rams aggressive offseason moves will pay off, but by following the gameplan of successful teams of the recent past, Los Angeles is playing its current situation like a team ready to win a Super Bowl.