Los Angeles Rams face busy offseason knowing they have ‘a place players want to be’

LOS ANGELES — At around 9 a.m. Monday, about 2 p.m. after the Los Angeles Rams won Super Bowl LVI, Sean McVay posed for photos with the Vince Lombardi Trophy and called it an “incredible honor” to stand on the podium reserved for the winning coach and MVP of the game.

“It’s also torture to see a team win a championship and have you come in the next morning, do a press conference so early,” McVay joked.

As Super Bowl champions do, the Rams had partied the night before to celebrate their second title in franchise history and their first since returning to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 2016. That celebration will continue. with a championship parade on Wednesday. which will culminate at the LA Coliseum, where the team played before moving to owner Stan Kroenke’s $5 billion SoFi Stadium in 2020.

Then the Rams – represented by McVay, Super Bowl MVP Cooper Kupp and management Monday at the Los Angeles Convention Center – will focus on all the major hurdles they will need to overcome to repeat in 2022, a feat that only one team of the NFL — the New England Patriots in 2004 and 2005 — has been successful over the past two decades. This may prove particularly difficult for the Rams given all the resources they sacrificed to win in 2021, and now with the recent emergence of questions about two of their most important plays.

McVay openly reflected on his future as a coach last week, his comments following sources reiterating to ESPN’s Lindsey Thiry that the coach has considered moving to the broadcast booth. The Super Bowl pregame show carried a report from NBC that Aaron Donald could retire if the Rams won, a possibility the star defensive tackle later neither confirmed nor denied.

Asked about those situations on Monday, Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff attributed them to the grind of a long season, projecting a lack of concern.

“You’re talking about 26 to 27 straight weeks where these guys may have had a weekend off,” Demoff said. “And you’re talking about an Aaron who works tirelessly at his craft in the offseason and for Sean, who burns the midnight oil, I think all of these guys are wiped. And I think when they get to that point, the gas tank is empty. …

“…Someone once told me: The hardest thing about winning the Super Bowl is that you wake up the next morning and it’s next season. It’s over. And to be just, I think it’s daunting to a degree, when you wake up this morning and you realize, “I have to start all over again,” and you don’t have the energy. So I think the conversation is actually natural. When you look at someone like Aaron Donald and what he accomplished, it was obviously a legacy piece.”

McVay spoke on Friday about trying to strike an ideal balance between his professional and personal life as he prepares to get married this summer and possibly start a family.

“I would agree,” Demoff said. “I don’t think Sean’s current pace is sustainable in terms of the amount of work he puts in, if you want to have a family. … But I think the one thing is that these guys all love football, they love being there for each other, they feed off each other. Sean has been saying all year: we win with our people and they win together. I think those are all natural questions that are hard to answer on the moment and speculate. In a month, two months away from everyone, and I think things will be much better.”

Demoff gave nonspecific answers to separate questions about whether the team could give McVay and Donald contract extensions this offseason. McVay’s current contract and that of general manager Les Snead both run through the 2023 season.

“While a lot, a lot has changed over the past five years, we’ve had incredible, unwavering leadership from Sean and Les,” Demoff said, “and it goes without saying that we’d like to see that continue. .”

Donald has three years and $55 million – none of which is guaranteed – remaining on his 2018 extension.

“I should look; I think he has a few years left,” Demoff said of Donald. “The one thing I remember about 2019 is when you get to the Super Bowl, everyone deserves things to be looked at and improved upon, and that year we lost. So when you win, everyone on the team probably deserves a merit increase. I think it comes down to the question: how do you build a team that can go and compete in 2023 and 2024? And how do you reward people who deserve a be rewarded? That is to say all 53 players and all 20 coaches.”

The Rams face big contract issues with some of the other players who have played key roles in their Super Bowl run, including wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., a pending free agent. Beckham’s situation could be further complicated by the knee injury he suffered late in the first half on Sunday after scoring the game’s first touchdown.

McVay had no update Monday on the injury.

“My heart goes out to him,” he said. “I love Odell. Really grateful for all the many contributions he’s made. We wouldn’t be champions without him.”

Outside linebacker Von Miller is another big-name player expected to become a free agent. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth has a $17 million cap that could put him at risk of being released if he doesn’t retire before then. Fellow O line starters Austin Corbett and Brian Allen are also unsigned beyond 2021.

The Rams are currently past the 2022 salary cap and aren’t expected to make the top-100 in the April draft, having traded their next two first rounds for quarterback Matthew Stafford, as well as this year’s second and third rounds. for Miller. . ESPN’s Kevin Seifert had the Rams last in a recent Capital ranking of each team’s offseason.

“But part of the joy of this group is finding a way to do things that aren’t mainstream,” Demoff said. “That’s what I love about working with Sean and Les and [vice president of football and business administration Tony Pastoors] and with Stan, the impossible becomes possible.

“I’ve seen charts that show off-season resources and if there’s a bottom we’re like under we’re on the other page. But at the same time I think we’ll have eight draft picks “. We will look at the salary cap and what can be done. But the one thing I will say, and it’s such an honor for Stan, Sean, Les and the players: it’s a place the players want to be. Our own players, other players. And when you see the scenes from last night, it will only make it more desirable to be an LA Ram. And when you start from that premise, there are a lot of things you can do to improve your chances of hopefully being back at that press conference next year.”

Another off-season mission for the Rams will be to capitalize on what Demoff called an “incredible opportunity” to build what remains a lukewarm fanbase in Los Angeles, a market the Dodgers and Lakers have long possessed. Demoff reiterated that this won’t happen overnight.

“Obviously it gives a boost to really build our group, our team, our organization,” he said. “Maybe when you walk into a school the kids are a little more excited to see you. But our work in LA is just getting started. We’ve had six amazing first years…but that’s all about the table to be a successful franchise here. And I expect us to work just as hard this offseason, to work harder to build fans, to go out and compete, to develop this next generation. It’s going to take a ton of work everyone.

“But that can probably wait a few days.”

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