Initially billed as a potential Super Bowl contender ahead of the 2019 NFL season, the Los Angeles Rams, formerly the St. Louis Rams, quickly became one of the league’s biggest disappointments. For that to change in 2020 and the years to come, they need to shake up the roster.
But where do they start? Can they pull off a trade? And what’s their primary issue?
Chief among the Rams’ greatest roadblocks right now is the limitations of their passing offense. They rely too heavily on running back Todd Gurley to get them by, and it often shows.
Installing another quarterback is out of the question. They just handed one of the richest extensions in NFL history to Jason Goff. They’re locked into him for at least the next couple of years.
Beefing up the offensive line doesn’t really need to be on the agenda, either. This is somewhat related to their low passing volume, but the Rams’ offensive line allowed fewer sacks in 2019 than any other team.
Adding depth to the wide receiver rotation will be a little tough. Brandin Cooks has severely underachieved, but they also have Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. It doesn’t make sense to trade or pay anybody to be their No. 1 or No. 2.
Targeting an upgrade at tight end makes a ton of sense. They need an infusion of playmaking at that spot—someone who cannot only block, but be relied upon to run effective routes and catch a high percentage of his passes.
Poaching one in free agency will be difficult. There aren’t a ton of big names available. They could look at Vance McDonald from the Pittsburgh Steelers, Eric Ebron from the Indianapolis Colts or Austin Hooper from the Atlanta Falcons, but none of those options are really high end or on the verge of entering their prime. They could take a flier on Tyler Eifert from the Cincinnati Bengals, but he’s approaching 30 and injury prone.
Working the trade market might be the more effective route. This is where the Washington Redskins come in. Their timeline is a little fuzzy after handing the keys of the offense to quarterback Dwayne Haskins. They might not have an inclination to trade any of their younger, high-upside guys.
At the same time, they’ve looked at bringing in veteran tight end Greg Olsen from the Carolina Panthers. That could signal a willingness to move the 25-year-old Jeremy Sprinkles. He caught more than 65 percent of his targets in 2019 while averaging more than 15 yards per reception. He’s not the best run blocker, but at 6’5” and 255 pounds, he has the ability to get better.
The Rams need to be thinking along these lines. They may need to give up an earlier draft pick to land someone like Sprinkles from the Redskins, but for what their offense needs moving forward, that price tag would be well worth the gamble.