As the 3-3 Rams scramble to rearrange their team just a season removed from a Super Bowl appearance, it would be easy for Cardinals fans and staffers to laugh in the face of a team most of us thought would rule the NFC West for years. LA’s recent moves tell us they think a rebuild is necessary, and their recent on-field struggles suggest the same. Having to rebuild after a two-year championship window, though, is a problem the Cardinals would love to have.
The Rams put the training wheels on Jared Goff during his rookie deal, as they should have, and now they’re stripping them off. The Cardinals should follow suit.
Yesterday, Los Angeles traded for Browns backup offensive lineman Austin Corbett, swapped Pro Bowl cornerback Marcus Peters for Ravens linebacker Kenny Young and ended the day by giving the Jaguars two first-round picks for Jalen Ramsey. They won’t have a first-round draft pick until 2022, and a large percentage of their cap space is dedicated to just four players. Ramsey is locked into his rookie deal until 2021.
The Rams are top-heavy, lack depth and will struggle to be a well-rounded team for the foreseeable future. Big whoop. This is the same thing every team outside of New England has been dealing with since the salary cap era started. When you find your franchise quarterback, eventually you have to pay him, and your roster will become unbalanced as a result.
That’s why the Rams shouldn’t be laughed at today. They did exactly what they should’ve done. When you realize you have a franchise quarterback on his rookie deal, it’s go time. You surround him with premium, expensive weapons, and you take advantage of a four year window you’ll never get again. And, you hope by the time that window closes, he’ll be ready to carry you through a rebuild. Kind of like what Russell Wilson’s been doing for the Seahawks since 2016. That formula did, by the way, lead the Rams to a Super last year. Now, Goff is locked up on a four-year $134 million dollar deal, and it’s time for him to carry the load.
The Cardinals should take note. They’ve learned quicker than most organizations, “Oh crap, we’ve got one.” Kyler Murray, unlike most rookie quarterbacks, is the engine that makes this offense go. He out-dueled former NFL MVP Matt Ryan this past weekend, and he’s 9th in the NFL in passing yards. He’s in control. It’s time to go, baby.
As you can see, cap space could be a problem in the upcoming offseason. Luckily, the Cardinals have until 2022 to figure this out. Offensive lineman, pass rushers, linebackers and safeties are all needed, and it would behoove Steve Keim to use free agency to fill those needs, especially given his history of first-round draft misses. Only three of his seven first-round selections remain on the team.
The Rams are rebuilding on the fly, just like every NFL team does every three to four years anyway. At least they got to a Super Bowl in the meantime. The Cardinals are in the middle of rebuild right now, but have no conference championship to show for it. Maybe by the time Kyler’s due for a new contract in 2022, they will.