Los Angeles Rams

The World Champions, back for another years of stars 'n' scrubs.

Congratulations to the Los Angeles Rams! Not only did they make the bold moves necessary to win the Super Bowl, but they proved Football Outsiders wrong in the process. The good news is that Super Bowl rings shine forever, and despite their zealous dedication to a “win now” mentality in 2021, they remain a strong contender going into 2022. The bad news is that the aggressive strategy that won them a Lombardi Trophy won’t work in the future, and they’ll need to shuffle the deck to compete for championships in the years ahead.

Two years ago at this time, the Rams were coming off a disappointing post-Super Bowl campaign, going 9-7 and failing to make the playoffs. Our essay in Football Outsiders Almanac 2020 praised the daring trade they had made for Jared Goff in the 2016 draft, plus the ensuing deals that brought in Jalen Ramsey, Brandin Cooks, Dante Fowler, and other veterans. But we also acknowledged that Goff had plateaued and that most of those veterans were no longer on the roster, and we said that the Rams would need to be smarter in future years to return to the postseason. We even wrote at the time that the Rams had mortgaged their future by going “all in.” Little did we know.

L.A. general manager Les Snead spent all of 2021 showing us what “all in” really means by doubling down on his picks-for-veterans gambit. (Please bear with us as we get all of our forced gambling cliches out of the way in this paragraph.) He already held a strong hand, with a royal flush of receivers on offense and a pair of kings on defense in Ramsey and Aaron Donald. In March, he upped the ante, packaging Goff with two future first-round draft picks and passing them to Detroit in exchange for Matthew Stafford. When Cam Akers tore his Achilles, Snead rolled the dice on Sony Michel, sending a sixth-rounder to New England in exchange for the veteran back. The Rams further raised the stakes in November, shipping second- and third-rounders to Denver to get veteran pass-rusher...