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Top takeaways from Les Snead's end-of-season press conference: 2024 first-round pick, extension candidates, cap space approach, special teams and more

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Rams general manage Les Snead held a video conference with local media on Friday, discussing his thoughts on how the team is currently approaching its 2024 first-round pick, the projected cap space it will have, pending free agents and extension candidates, among other topics. 

Here are some highlights and key takeaways from that conversation:

"A little to early to tell" whether 2024 first-round pick gets used

Asked if he anticipates that he will actually use the Rams' 2024 first-round pick to select a player or trade the pick back for more picks, Snead said it is "a little too early to tell." 

"Obviously you always have to prepare to pick," Snead said. "What if you wanted to trade up or back, no one wants to dance with you. We're not going to Minnesota Viking this thing and just pass. Don't want to get on them, but you always have to be able to prepare to pick." 

The NFL Draft isn't until April 25, or more than three months away, so it makes sense that Snead and the front office wouldn't know yet. Plus, Snead also mentioned the group not sitting down to evaluate the roster and its needs until after Super Bowl LVIII, which will take place Sunday, February 11. 

"You gotta be able to prepare to pick, prepare to pass on some players, and see if a trade back or a trade up is beneficial for the Rams," Snead said. 

Rams want to extend Dotson

Snead understands Dotson, a pending unrestricted free agent, will have a competitive market based on the way he played this past season, but indicated they want to extend him. 

"People are going to want him to come play football for them," Snead said. "We're one of those teams." 

Snead said the Rams will start outlining a blueprint and communication timeline with Dotson's agent "so that each step of the way they know where we stand." 

Cap space will Rams chance to "take a look" in free agency

While Los Angeles will have a healthier salary cap situation this offseason because of the moves it made during the 2023 offseason, Snead said it won't use all of that cap space in unrestricted free agency. But it will give L.A. a chance to be more involved compared to previous years.  

"What it does give you is a healthy way to evolve as a team, and continue to add pieces," Snead said. "I probably would not expect us to go out on (when) the bell rings, open (the) new league year and spend $40 million in free agency. But what it does allow us to do is take a look in free agency." 

The Rams haven't dove into unrestricted free agency much in the past in part, according to Snead, because of the reduced salary cap during the 2021 offseason (in wake of the COVID-impacted 2020 season) and the compensatory pick formula. Comp picks are how L.A. for many years gained additional selections to fill out their roster as they traded away first-round picks for established talent, and a team is only eligible to be awarded those picks if they lose more players that qualify as compensatory free agents than it signs during free agency. 

Jones an extension candidate

Asked if the Rams will extend linebacker Ernest Jones IV before the start of next season, Snead indicated Jones is very much a candidate for that. 

"He's definitely someone we'll discuss and definitely someone we'd like to have around," Snead said.

Snead said Jones is someone "who is a very important part of the defense for many reasons," noting how he evolved to become one of the key leaders of that unit. 

While the Rams have invested other positions instead of inside linebacker in the past, "I think as we evolve, and as teams evolved, there's times where you may be less invested at a certain position that you were in the past, and one of your better players is an inside linebacker," Snead said. 

Jones finished his third season setting a new franchise single-season record for total tackles with 145. Before the season, he was voted a captain by his teammates for the first time.

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