Running It Back While Moving Forward | Los Angeles Rams Approach To Free Agency

Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, And Van Jefferson At Los Angeles Rams Open Practice At SoFi Stadium. Photo Credit: Ryan Dyrud | LAFB Network
Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, And Van Jefferson At Los Angeles Rams Open Practice At SoFi Stadium. Photo Credit: Ryan Dyrud | LAFB Network

Running it back was always going to be a difficult process. Like Mr. Burns, the Los Angeles Rams can always find more money and picks in their coat pockets than pundits would think, but there was still going to be a price to pay if the Rams were to get better.

It won’t be known until the future Jourdan Rodrigue oral history possibly titled “F Them Picks: How the Rams Upended Conventional Roster Building and Created a Dynasty”, but Von Miller taking the money and running to Buffalo, HAD to throw them for a loop. Yes, even if Von had taken Chandler Jones (ish) money on a shorter deal to stay with Aaron Donald, it’d still have to come at the cost of SOMEONE.

When the Rams pivoted and gave a lot of their Von money to Allen Robinson suddenly running it back became a lot more complicated. The Rams were making moves to keep as much of their team together but it’s very clear they were molding their team into something else.

Even members of the IllumiRami didn’t see Allen Robinson’s three-year $46 million ($30 million guaranteed) deal coming. In fact, Jalen Ramsey didn’t even see it coming and he knows EVERYTHING. It came out of nowhere and was clearly a response to losing Von (more on that later) as they now had more money to play with.

Most would’ve predicted a pass rusher say, Za’Darius Smith or Bobby Wagner but when Robinson signed it signaled other moves to come. The first thought was the Rams would package something, be it Van Jefferson and picks or Robert Woods/Tyler Higbee and picks for Danielle Hunter and a pick, but Minnesota was content to keep Hunter. Once that was announced everyone came to the same conclusion and that would be Bobby Trees was the most likely candidate to go.

It’s tragic, because like Andrew Whitworth, he was an under-the-radar free-agent signing that wound up changing the foundation of the Rams. He and Whitworth were beyond instrumental in establishing “WE NOT ME” and giving Sean McVay credibility. But the Rams weren’t going to pay three (or four depending on Odell Beckham) ten million a year, so SOMEONE had to go.

The Rams broke fans’ hearts and traded Trees. To their credit, they allowed him to find a team that would perfectly accommodate his skillset and Tennessee was that team. Sadly, all they gave back was a sixth-round pick because they were taking on his massive extension, which he never played a snap on. Again, it sucks and even though they allowed him to choose his own destiny, it still sucks when a team has to be “Miller’s Crossing” level cold-blooded.

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So why Robinson? Well, the common phrase bandied about when the Rams signed Robinson was his ability with 50/50 balls. Robinson is 6’2 and Trees is 6’0. Cooper Kupp is also 6’2. It seemed that Trees didn’t vibe with Matthew Stafford the way he has with Kupp and later Beckham. With Stafford signing a five-year extension he is clearly the man for the foreseeable future and now they are going to build around him. He does throw a lot of 50/50 balls and Robinson is the kind of player to optimize that desire (something Van struggles with). Not to mention, Robinson is a skilled run-blocker.

The reason why Woods being traded didn’t seem plausible at first was that while he was coming off an ACL tear and was already 30, he was going to be an available body while Beckham won’t be back until December. If Woods was going to be traded it might have been at mid-season. Plus, Robinson was needed because McVay needed receivers. The Super Bowl, while a glorious moment for the Rams, was also eye-opening. When Beckham went down the Rams all of a sudden had to rely on Brycen Hopkins and Ben Skowronek to take the pressure off of Kupp and Jefferson. If the Rams are serious about running it back, they needed to correct that IMMEDIATELY.

Robinson, Kupp, Jefferson, Higbee, and Jacob Harris are a solid receiving group. It stands to reason that they will also look for some size in the draft and will find a way to integrate Tutu Atwell (no seriously) or Brandon Powell into some sort of a K-Mart Deebo Samuel type role as that is going to be the big copycat move league-wide. They are also likely looking to draft some run-blocking linemen and a blocking tight end so they can open it up for Cam Akers as they couldn’t run at all during their last three games.

What isn’t clear is how they are going to move forward on defense. Bobby Wagner is still available (and has been linked to the Rams), as is corner Stephon Gilmore. The Rams didn’t blow all their Von money on Robinson so they CAN make a run at another free agent because going into training camp without anyone to fill the Von void would be odd.

[brid video=”976840″ player=”32134″ title=”BREAKING%20Los%20Angeles%20Rams%20Wide%20Receiver%20Robert%20Woods%20Traded%20To%20Tennessee%20Titans” duration=”1005″ description=”BREAKING: Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Robert Woods Traded To Tennessee Titans.Sad day for Los Angeles. Robert Woods traded to the Tennessee Titans for a 2023 6th-Round draft pick. What does this trade mean and where do the Rams go from here? Immediate reaction from Ryan Dyrud.Sponsors:Get your very own SlapDick Whiskey with the promo code ‘SlapDickLA’ at https://www.coachjbstore.comTickPick is the official ticket partner of the LA Football Network: Partners: in and subscribe to the LA Football Podcast wherever you get your podcasts and on YouTube!Social Media: @LAFBNetwork” uploaddate=”2022-03-21″ thumbnailurl=”” contentUrl=”//″ width=”480″ height=”270″]

The Aaron Donald extension is the next domino to drop and that will determine where they go next. Les Snead’s cap magic has been unreal as both Brian Allen and Joseph Noteboom count for less than $10 million on the cap and Stafford’s extension freed up money too, as did trading Woods. They can possibly find a bit more money to get Gilmore and a lesser pass-rusher or Wagner and another corner that isn’t quite Gilmore. Or perhaps they only do one thing and allow themselves flexibility for their big mid-season trade that seems almost inevitable.

The NFC is WIDE OPEN and will be a for a few more years as the great quarterback exodus has left the Rams, Bucs, Vikings (?), Green Bay (?), and Dallas (??) as contenders, with San Francisco and Arizona being right below them. Running it back is possible almost by default. Still, they are moving into a new phase of their team building as they are preparing for the end of the Stafford/Aaron Donald world and making the tough decisions on their younger pieces such as Van Jefferson, Greg Gaines, and others. They have comp picks coming for years now and will look to give themselves a sub-foundation for when they are forced to rebuild with or without Sean McVay.

It hurts to lose foundational pieces like Woods, Hekker, and Whitworth, but that’s the unfortunate side-effect of success. At least all three left with a ring and the culture should survive with Kupp, Ramsey, and Donald being the new voices. These moves hurt and won’t stop hurting but if they can help in the Rams running it back for another title or two it’ll all be worth it.