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Between cap space and expected draft capital, Rams back in position to be themselves, potentially take big swings in 2024

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – After multiple years of aggressive moves, whether through free agency or trade, the Rams early in the 2023 offseason decided a reset was needed. 

The moves that followed would be tough pills to swallow in some cases, particularly the departures of experienced contributors on the defensive side of the ball, but ultimately necessary in order to achieve a healthier salary cap for future seasons and restock draft assets. 

Not only does Los Angeles have that, it also owns its 2024 first-round pick, which, if used, would mark the first time doing so since 2016. 

That sets the stage for some exciting possibilities as free agency and the new league year approach on March 13, and later this year's NFL Draft. 

"I put this in the letter (to Season Ticket Members last year), the problem was, we'd always been so aggressive, we just didn't have the draft picks or the salary cap space to win those battles," Rams Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff told Travis Rodgers and D'Marco Farr on Rams radio affiliate ESPN LA 710 AM at Rams Revealed Live earlier this week. "When you go into a Christian McCaffrey trade, people can outbid you. That was never the case with us before. Now with hopefully 11 picks once we get these compensatory picks, and a first-rounder, four picks in the Top 100 and about $45-50 million in salary cap space, we can go be the Rams, we can be aggressive." 

The NFL announced the 2024 salary cap as $255.4 million, an increase of $30.6 million from 2023 and the largest increase in free agency history. 

Rams general manager Les Snead on Wednesday said the announced figure "didn't really surprise us that much," given their projections internally. He also indicated it didn't have a major impact on their plans for free agency.

"It was somewhat according to plan," Snead said. "So it really didn't alter, let's call it, our initial blueprint, which we're actually still refining as we go about this process. So to answer your question, nice to have, but that was in the ballpark of what we were expecting." 

That blueprint already has had some movement, with other pieces to that puzzle still being worked through. L.A. re-signed wide receiver Demarcus Robinson to a 1-year deal this week.

Meanwhile, Snead said the Rams have been in communication with offensive linemen Kevin Dotson and Coleman Shelton's respective camps. While he expects both of them to hit the free market, doing so will help come up with a number that makes sense for both sides. The Rams have also been in contact with reps for John Johnson III and Ahkello Witherspoon – both pending unrestricted free agents – about potential roles moving forward. 

There's also a need for a backup quarterback with Carson Wentz a pending unrestricted free agent and Stetson Bennett's situation still unresolved, though Snead said the cap space they will have this offseason will allow them to sign an established veteran backup, unlike last season. Snead also didn't rule out a young quarterback coming in and having the opportunity to earn the No. 2 spot, but they ultimately want someone who can come in and win a game for them in the event starter Matthew Stafford is unable to play. 

What all of that mean for the next eight-plus weeks remains to be seen. As Snead said, the Rams are still in the process of refining their 2024 blueprint, and draft meetings between the scouting department and coaching staff got underway this week. 

But at the very least, they'll be in position to get back to being aggressive, if they so choose – whatever that looks like based on the resources they have. 

"Hopefully it's not crazy," Snead said. "But I can say this: Sean and I do have in our DNA an element of, we're not going to be scared to try to go win a gold medal."

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