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How Long Can the Los Angeles Rams Remain Title Contenders?

The Los Angeles Rams have found relative success in getting into the title picture recently. After years of underperforming and underutilizing talent, they’ve found their groove with the current regime and players. Los Angeles features one of the brightest offensive minds at head coach with Sean McVay, as well as some incredible cornerstones.

They’ve worked their way from the 7-9 seasons under Jeff Fisher to getting to the Super Bowl in just the second year of McVay at the helm. But, some pieces can get in the way of Los Angeles remaining at the top of NFL landscape.

From health concerns to contract negotiations to even the play of these great players can get in the way of them achieving longevity. So it’s essential to look into how long the Rams have to remain as title contenders.

Todd Gurley’s Health

The Rams star running back has proven that he is one of the best offensive weapons in the league over the last two seasons. He’s earned offensive player of the year honors in 2017 and has led the league in both rushing touchdowns (30) and total touchdowns (40) during that span.

However, Gurley’s knee is a significant issue that’s keeping him from a long career and assisting the Rams’ long-term offensive success. Gurley suffered a torn ACL back in his junior year at the University of Georgia, and as much as he’s found success since then, it’s lingered and is keeping him from the field. A lot of this was shown in the postseason last season when CJ Anderson was cutting into Gurley’s carries. And this can be due to Gurley being overused.

Since his rookie season, Gurley has carried the ball 1,042 times. No other running back has 950 carries during that period. And the former Bulldog has missed six games as well.

Adding onto the large workload is the fact that Gurley’s knee has an arthritic component to it as well. Typically ACL tears come with this, but not usually this early in an athlete’s career.

Because of this, the Los Angeles Rams have already looked into replacement options in rookie Darrell Henderson, and are looking to not only keep Gurley’s weight down but his touches as well.

Gurley is a critical part of the team’s offensive success. So now this will hinder on the success of offensive weapons outside of the backfield. They do have this, but that’s another issue that will come up soon.

Keeping and Developing Talent

With the way the Los Angeles Rams were dealing trades and signing players in the 2018 offseason, it will be difficult to see them keep everyone together. New players will want to be signed to longer deals and veterans will play on until they get a championship. But with the amount of talent around, it’s going to be hard to satisfy everyone.

The Rams have the fourth-lowest cap space in the league, and they’re looking at plenty of players that either wants to re-sign or get an extension. Key players like safety John Johnson, receiver Cooper Kupp, and quarterback Jared Goff will all be looking for that money. The Rams would be crazy not to pay them what they want.

But it will be complicated with the many big contracts that have already been given to guys like Aaron Donald and Brandin Cooks, as well as some significantly-priced deals to Eric Weddle and Clay Matthews. This will make it challenging to look for other big names in free agency to help bolster them to the title that fell through their hands. Even worse when considering the draft picks they’ve given up as well.

They have yet to draft a player in the first round in the McVay era. The Rams found success in the 2017 class but fell apart with their 2018 draft class they ranked last in the NFL for what they came away with. Zero starts from any of their rookies last season and very little playing time at all from the 11 players they selected. And even this recent draft was just depth over trying to fill holes on the team.

And it won’t help with a division that they play in that continues to improve.

A Competitive NFC West

A critical factor in getting to the playoffs is by being the best team in your division. It’s only common sense.

However, the NFC West is beginning to turn the corner and provide a severe long-term threat to the Los Angeles Rams. And it shows with what’s happened during this offseason.

  • Seattle Seahawks: A playoff contender any season that locked up franchise quarterback Russell Wilson for the future and filled needs in the draft and free agency.
  • Arizona Cardinals: A team with a revitalized offense with their draft haul that’s looking to improve on the defense as they look to improve from last year.
  • San Francisco 49ers: A team, that if healthy, can be very dangerous with their young talent and offensive-minded head coach.

All of these opponents in this division are getting better through developing young talent and utilizing transactions for long-term success. And Seattle and Arizona are due for a big free agency load with their cap space in the 2020 offseason.

All of these teams are built for the future and have plenty of depth to go around. The Rams need to be better in providing not only depth but players they can develop and bring in at any moment’s notice.

And a lot of this can be attested to the quarterback crop in this division. And speaking on that is the most essential part of this list.

Jared Goff

Quarterback is, without a doubt the most crucial position in football. It’s obvious, and the Rams will likely continue to go with him for the future.

But a lot of this will go back to the contracts situation from earlier. Signing Goff to likely being the highest-paid quarterback in the league is coming soon. And with this rolling around next offseason, it will destroy the Rams’ ability to sign other talents to build around Goff.

Every quarterback that has signed a deal making them the highest-paid quarterback in league history has missed the playoffs the following year. And with a lack of being able to sign other players and re-sign key contributors, Los Angeles will go down very quickly with the deals they have already in place.

Especially with a quarterback that has proven to be unreliable in the playoffs and unable to find success without Todd Gurley. Last postseason he completed 59 of his 106 passes (55.7 percent) for 712 yards and one touchdown to two interceptions and getting sacked five times (a passer rating of 71.7). Not the numbers you want to see from your franchise quarterback in the playoffs.

How Long do the Los Angeles Rams have left?

Realistically with the contracts, they have in place and the young talent that will likely be going away, we should expect them to be done in 2-3 years.

The Los Angeles Rams are a cautionary tale of a team that with a win-now mindset and overworking their star players will end a probable dynasty before it even starts. It’s unfortunate to see, but it’s always great while it lasted.