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December 22, 2019

NFC Hierarchy/Obituary: Mid-Week 16 edition, Rams are dead

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122219ToddGurley Kyle Terada/USA TODAY Sports

Don't hitch your team's long-term success to a running back.

We already published our Week 16 NFC Hierarchy/Obituary back on Tuesday, as always, but since the Los Angeles Rams are now officially eliminated from playoff contention after their loss to the San Francisco 49ers Saturday night, let's go ahead and eulogize them.



Rams (8-7): The 2019 Rams will be the sixth NFC team since realignment in 2002 to miss the playoffs the year after losing the Super Bowl. A quick look back at the recent history there:

 Super Bowl yearSuper Bowl loser The next year Playoffs? 
 2001Rams 7-9 No 
 2003Panthers 7-9 No 
 2004Eagles 6-10 No 
 2005Seahawks 9-7 Yes 
 2006Bears 7-9 No 
 2008Cardinals 10-6 Yes 
 201249ers 12-4 Yes 
 2014Seahawks 10-6 Yes 
 2015Panthers 6-10 No 
 2016Falcons 10-6 Yes 
 2018Rams 8-8, 8-7-1, or 9-7 No 

For most of the 2018 season, when the Rams went 13-3, Todd Gurley was an MVP candidate, Sean McVay dazzled morons by being able to name the players on the team they were playing, and the Rams' offense was as explosive as any in the NFL. Once Gurley got a little banged up, the team was no longer as dominant offensively. 

In the divisional round, they beat a Cowboys team that wasn't going anywhere anyway, and they were gifted a win over the Saints in the NFC Championship Game before being on the wrong end of what was one of the worst Super Bowls ever played.

In 2019, with Gurley merely an OK back as opposed to the elite, offense-carrying force he was throughout most of 2018, the Rams sputtered, falling well behind the Seahawks and 49ers in their own division. 

Looking forward, L.A. is in trouble. To begin, they have given out some extremely lucrative contracts of late, and some of them already look questionable:

  1. July, 2018: Todd Gurley becomes the highest-paid RB ever.
  2. July, 2018: Brandin Cooks signs a five-year, $81 million deal.
  3. August, 2018: Aaron Donald becomes the highest-paid defensive player ever.
  4. September, 2019: Jared Goff receives the most guaranteed money ever.

The deals for Gurley, Cooks, and Goff already look shaky, and Jalen Ramsey, who the Rams traded for at the deadline for two first-round picks, will be breaking the bank next. 

The Rams are going to be quite top-heavy, in terms of their salary cap allocation. They haven't selected a player in the first round of a draft since Goff went first overall in 2016, and as it stands right now, they don't have first round picks in 2020 or 2021. 

This offseason, the Rams will also have a number of players slated to become unrestricted free agents, such as Dante Fowler, Andrew Whitworth, Michael Brockers, Cory Littleton, and Greg Zuerlein. It's going to be hard to retain some of those core players, while simultaneously fixing their crappy offensive line, seeing as, again, they don't have high draft picks.




We will resume the Hierarchy on Tuesday, as scheduled.

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