Pete Carroll will turn 70 around Week 2 of next season. Sean McVay is 35, younger than one of his offensive linemen.
But after several high-risk transactions, the window for the Los Angeles Rams to make some Super Bowl magic is almost nonexistent. This coming season would be their highest hope. The thing is, newly acquired quarterback Matthew Stafford has zero playoff wins.
McVay has epitomized the way this world often turns: young, flash, innovation, and is on the verge of being just a blip in the NFC West radar. Carroll, despite his flaws and criticism, has already taken two Super Bowl trips with this team, has a ring, and carries a decade of mostly 10-win seasons or better.
The Rams might finish better than the Seattle Seahawks this year. If they do, it could be the last one for a while. If they don’t, it’s disaster for the future of the Seahawks’ most troublesome rival.
How the hell are the #Rams even going to afford Stafford? They don't have the cap space (even after trading Goff) and what draft picks do they have left that would be worthy of the player?— Samuel Gold (@SamuelRGold) January 30, 2021
Wow the Rams have 23x more dead cap space in 2021 than the Hawks.— Dick Fain (@dickfain) February 1, 2021
30.8m vs 1.3m
Rams now have over $40 million in cap space going to QBs this year. The cap numbers for Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey will be just over $50 million combined.— Gregg Bell (@gbellseattle) February 1, 2021
That’s more than half the expected cap number for LA’s entire team in 2021 for just 3 guys, plus 1 who will play for DET
Now obviously, this is the NFL with their interns and strange rules that let GMs push debt years into the future, and almost any combination of contract restructuring is available. But now they’re running into that future, and it can only be kicked for so long.
The terrible contracts given to offensive players (most notably Jared Goff and Todd Gurley, with the receivers close behind) come at a cost. It will come at the expense of some players this offseason, with the real pinch being tied hands throughout free agency.
Now over at Turf Show Times, Kenneth Arthur speculates that Leonard Floyd is one of the likely candidates to be over-budget. Floyd was even more devastating this season to Seattle than Aaron Donald as the team spent their effort containing Donald.
Meanwhile, the frequent first-round handouts to get Jalen Ramsey and now Stafford make it rare for L.A. to be able to maintain through the draft. Rare because finding multi-year starters without eight years of firsts has simply not been tried before.
This will be fascinating to watch. The point here is simply that if this experiment fails, I’m not sure how the Rams go about a rebuild. They would need to wait 2-3 years after the 2021 season to even begin rebuilding, which is a multi-year process. If it does fail, Sean McVay could end up like the 2017 “Sacksonville” Jaguars defense. Ramsey and Co. sprang up seemingly out of nowhere to become an overnight elite defensive nightmare. Just three years later they’ve got the number one overall pick and have everyone wondering what happened.
McVay took the Rams to a Super Bowl in his second season, becoming the youngest coach ever to do so. They scored three points. Just three seasons later, if Stafford doesn’t carry this financial crisis into glory, I’m not convinced he would or should stick around through an impending marathon of recovery.
Slow and steady is not a good way to start a football game and I wish Pete Carroll’s teams would move the ball a little better in the first half. But Carroll has continued to produce good teams and raise the “next man up,” and over 10 years has not once put this team in dire straits for the future. Carroll’s legacy will almost certainly prevail here.