Since the start of the new league year on March 14, Los Angeles has officially added four dynamic players to its roster: cornerback Marcus Peters, cornerback Aqib Talib, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, and wide receiver Brandin Cooks.
Having done so, the Rams have in many ways created a perception that the club is "all in" on attempting to win a championship in 2018. Because each team's goal is to hold the Lombardi Trophy at the end of season, there is some truth to that thought process. But according to general manager Les Snead, there's more to it for L.A.
"I think simply put 2018 is important. We definitely want to repeat as NFC West Champions," Snead said last week. "But … a lot of the players we have acquired are young and have evolved to be in the prime of their careers. We'd love to take advantage of that in not just '18 but in '19, '20, '21 and moving forward."
Part of the reason Los Angeles was able to be so aggressive in this offseason is because quarterback Jared Goff has emerged as a strong starting quarterback after just two years in the league.
"Well I think we're in a window where our quarterback, who was part of winning 11 games last year, [is] still on a rookie deal," Snead said. "So, I do think as a general manager you do have to realize and be aware that your in that window and have an opportunity to maybe add some players — maybe one or two more than you would if you hadn't not had to do the QB."
That's part of what has given the Rams the flexibility to add a player in free agency like Ndamukong Suh, who has proven his value throughout his career. And an Aqib Talib, who has familiarity and respect for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.
When it comes to these four players, though, Snead said even he didn't necessarily envision acquiring each of them.
"I would say no," Snead said. "I think when we first set out it was more a vision of OK, solidify, let's call it, the defensive backfield — because at that time Lamarcus [Joyner] was a free agent, Trumaine Johnson was a free agent. So, you knew you had to solidify that. However that was going to play out and you knew that if you didn't get one guy or the other, you were going to have to adjust and you had a plan for that.
Check out photos of Ndamukong Suh being introduced as the newest member of the Los Angeles Rams.
"Now, again, the plan is usually unrestricted free agents who you know are available or the draft," Snead continued. "So as things evolve, get a call from Kansas City to see if you're interested in Marcus Peters and then okay, that begins. And I think I've given the media credit for really Talib in that it was floating around that they may want to cut him for a QB, then they may want to trade him, so you kind of take advantage of that intel as it goes along."
But even as Snead and the organization have been aggressive this offseason, the Rams have become a team that each of these players truly wants to join. In some ways, it's fairly different that the franchise has become a kind of destination team.
"When we relocated out here, you take anything out other than Southern California and you did know that would be very appetizing for young professional athletes. So that speaks for itself — if you go out and there's the weather, and the no humidity and all that," Snead said. "But I do think, hey, starting with hiring a really young coach who was successful, as Brandin said, watching from afar, you go, 'OK, that team has some unity, some chemistry, that seems like a good place to play in.'
"And I give the guys credit," Snead added. "They vet, they talk to their friends who play in this league and they go, 'OK, wait a minute, you really want to go play for, let's call it, 'not even just Sean McVay, but Wade Phillips, and all the guys in between.'"
And so as Los Angeles begins its second offseason program under McVay on Monday, there is an urgency to defend the NFC West title. And to go further in the postseason than the club did last year. But the Rams know there's a process in order to do that, and it starts with taking things one day at a time.
"Yes, 2018 is important, '19 is very important, and I think Sean and I have been saying the whole time that guess what? It's '18, but we're still 11 wins behind the '17 season," Snead said. "So just because we've had, let's call it, a flashy 2018 offseason, doesn't mean we're any better this year than we were last year. Because we're 11 games behind last year's team, but it's up to us to start here in the next couple of weeks like we did last year and make sure we win 12 or more."