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Top takeaways from Rams GM Les Snead at NFL Annual Meeting: How they view 19th overall pick, initial free agency signings, Ernest Jones IV extension status, and more

ORLANDO, Fla. – Rams general manager Les Snead spoke with reporters for nearly 40 minutes on Monday at the NFL Annual Meeting, covering their view on the 19th overall pick one month out from the draft, the team's approach to free agency, and the latest on extension talks with linebacker Ernest Jones IV, among other topics.

Here are some of the top takeaways from that conversation: 

Rams have internally explored models for trading up or trading down from 19th overall

Still in possession of their first-round pick, the Rams internally have looked at options for moving up or down from the 19th overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, according to general manager Les Snead.

"We have run models on, 'Okay, let's say we moved to this pick in front of us. What would it take? What would we give up?'" Snead said. "And obviously, at 19, what if we inch back? What if we take a longer jump back? What are we gaining? Number one is to be prepared to do it, and then also work through some models of, if we do that, what are we losing? What are we gaining? And we'll do that at 52 (overall) as well. Probably not as much in the third round. ... Because there are scenarios where if you move back, you move up, maybe there's a chance you get three players in the first and second round versus two, and then there's a possibility you only end up with one if you move up." 

The Rams currently have 11 total picks to work with in this year's draft, tied with the Cardinals, Bills and Packers for most entering the 2024 NFL Draft. 

On signing Garoppolo to back up Stafford, rather than re-signing Wentz

Last week, the Rams signed veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo to a 1-year deal to be Matthew Stafford's backup. 

Snead on Monday said that although they were "fans of" Carson Wentz, who was signed to back up Stafford late last season, they felt Garoppolo's familiarity and playing style made him a better fit. 

The familiarity with their offensive system for Garoppolo spans across multiple members of the Rams' 2024 coaching staff, having worked with offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur in San Francisco, tight ends coach/pass game coordinator Nick Caley in New England and senior assistant Jerry Schuplinski in Las Vegas. 

"We all were fans of Carson. I think at the end of the day, it was Jimmy's familiarity with our offense, and also his style of play fits this offense," Snead said. "So it was probably those two things, even though all of us came to really, really appreciate Carson's approach to just probably life and then football in general. He's someone that wants to come in and be the best every day, whether it's probably – eventually, when he drives his kids to school, he's gonna want to be the best at driving his kids to school. That's just how he approached life, that's just how he approaches football. So that competitive spirit, those are tough decisions, because he's 1-0 with us and Jimmy's 0-0, but I think it was really kind of the familiarity with our scheme and his fit in our scheme."

Where things stand with possible extension for Ernest Jones IV

Named a first-time captain in his third NFL season, Jones went on to set the franchise single-season tackle record with 145 total while starting in all 15 regular season games he played in, plus the Rams' wild-card playoff game. 

The torch has also now been passed to him by Aaron Donald following Donald's retirement – Donald said in an interview published last week that he told Jones it's his defense now. 

For those reasons, as while as the status of his contract, Year 4 is shaping to be a pivotal year for Jones. And as of right now, Snead said they expect him to play out the final year of his deal given the way resources were allocated this spring toward additions rather than internal re-signings.

"We did talk to Ernest and what we did tell him is because of 2023, and how we went into that year to clean up our salary cap a little bit, we definitely wanted to use a lot of this year's cash and cap on improving our team from last year," Snead said. "And that some of those guys might have to wait, play their senior year, per se, or their fourth year before we get to them, only because that's what we think right now is best for the 2024 version of the Rams. But you never know. We'll always be in contact, but we have Ernest's group know that that is probably the case (that he would play out year four), and that we would revisit it then."

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