Rams’ All-In Super Bowl Run: How Matthew Stafford, Von Miller, Odell Beckham Trades & More Got L.A. To Super Bowl
Getty Images. Pictured: Rams’ Jalen Ramsey, Sean McVay and Matthew Stafford (left to right)
It feels like now or never for the Los Angeles Rams, who have reached the 2022 Super Bowl after seemingly being in “win-now” mode for years.
The team, led by general manager Les Snead, has been particularly aggressive during this year’s Super Bowl run, but their bullish approach began back in 2016. Some transactions were praiseworthy (see: Matthew Stafford and Jalen Ramsey), while others were met with scrutiny (see: Brandin Cooks and Jared Goff). Over that time, the team became notorious for trading draft picks and offering blockbuster contracts that, of course, come at a price.
According to Spotrac, the Rams currently have 46 players under contract for 2022 who collectively carry a $216.4 million cap hit. This puts the team approximately $8.1 million over the NFL’s salary cap and makes it unlikely they will be able to re-sign their free agents or make many bold moves during free agency.
The Rams’ willingness to part with their draft capital — specifically first-round picks — also impacts their long-term outlook. Barring a deal, the already over-leveraged team is slated to go seven consecutive drafts (2017 to 2023) without a first-round pick and will not have first- or second-round picks in the 2022 NFL Draft.
Key Rams Transactions
April 14, 2016
The Rams made a deal with the Tennessee Titans ahead of the 2016 NFL Draft to move up 14 spots with the intent of drafting quarterback Jared Goff. The transaction cost the team multiple picks — including their 2017 first-round selection.
April 3, 2018
The Rams acquired wide receiver Brandin Cooks and a 2018 fourth-round pick from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2018 first-round pick and a 2018 sixth-round pick. Cooks signed a five-year, $81 million contract extension later that offseason. He posted a 1,204-receiving yard season in his first year with Los Angeles, but struggled with concussions and underperformance in 2019.
On April 10, 2020, Cooks and a 2022 fourth-round pick were dealt to the Houston Texans in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick, which the Rams used to draft receiver Van Jefferson.
April 25, 2019
The Rams dealt their 2019 first-round pick and sixth-round pick to the Atlanta Falcons in exchange for the Falcons’ 2019 second- and third-round picks. This would mark the team’s third consecutive draft without a first-round selection.
March 8, 2019
The Rams signed safety Eric Weddle to a two-year, $10.5 million deal after the two-time first-team All-Pro was released by the Ravens three days prior. Weddle, 37, retired in 2020, but came out of retirement on Jan. 12, 2022 and was signed to the Rams’ practice squad to aid the team’s banged up secondary during the playoffs. He was elevated from the practice squad and has appeared in all three of Los Angeles’ playoff games thus far.
Oct. 15, 2019
The Rams acquired cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the Jacksonville Jaguars in exchange for a 2020 first-round pick, a 2021 first-round pick and a 2021 fourth-round pick. Ramsey, 27, was a first-round pick in 2016 from Florida State. He is a three-time first-team All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler. The Rams extended Ramsey on Sept. 9, 2020 via a five-year, $105 million extension, making him the highest-paid defensive back in the NFL at the time.
April 24, 2020
The Rams signed linebacker Leonard Floyd to a one-year, $5 million deal. Floyd, 29, was a first-round pick back in 2016 and had been released from the Chicago Bears a month prior. He posted a career year in 2020 and recorded 10.5 sacks, 31 solo tackles, 24 assisted tackles, 11 tackles for a loss and 19 quarterback hits. The Rams extended Floyd on March 15, 2021 via a blockbuster, four-year contract worth $64 million.
Jan. 31, 2021
The Rams agreed to acquire quarterback Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2021 third-round pick, a 2022 first-round pick, a 2023 first-round pick and quarterback Jared Goff — the team’s most recent first-round pick. The Rams were forced to absorb $22.2 million of Goff’s four-year, $132 million contract extension in 2021 against their cap as part of the transaction, which was processed in March.
Stafford, 33, was the No. 1 overall pick in 2009 from Georgia. The Pro Bowl quarterback tied a career-high 67.2% completion rate and threw for 4,886 yards, 41 touchdowns and just 17 interceptions during the 17 regular-season games for the Rams.
Aug. 25, 2021
The Rams acquired running back Sony Michel from the New England Patriots in exchange for a 2022 fifth-round pick and a 2022 sixth-round pick. Michel, 26, has been an integral part of the Rams’ run game, especially with Cam Akers going down in training camp with a torn Achilles and Darrell Henderson Jr. battling various injuries this season. The 2018 first-round pick from Georgia posted 208 attempts for 845 yards and four touchdowns and caught 21 passes for 128 yards and a touchdown through 17 regular-season games.
Nov. 1, 2021
The Rams acquired linebacker Von Miller from the Denver Broncos at the trade deadline in exchange for a 2022 second-round pick and 2022 third-round pick. The Broncos agreed to pay $9 million of the future Hall of Famer’s remaining $9.7 million salary as part of the transaction. Miller, 32, is a former No. 2 overall pick from the 2011 NFL Draft. He is a three-time first-team All-Pro and eight-time Pro Bowler. He was also a member of the Broncos team that defeated the Panthers in Super Bowl 50, after which Miller was named the Super Bowl MVP.
Nov. 11, 2021
The Rams signed wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who had been waived by the Cleveland Browns just days beforehand amid a highly publicized fallout with the team. Beckham, 29, signed an incentive-heavy one-year, $1.25 million contract worth up to $4.25 million. He made an immediate impact on the team’s passing game with receiver Robert Woods done for the year. Beckham reeled in 27 of 48 targets for 305 yards and five touchdowns over eight regular-season games for the Rams.
Impact on Rams’ Super Bowl Odds
So, how much have these transactions moved the needle for the Rams’ Super Bowl odds?
There’s no denying the Rams are an improved squad with Stafford, Miller, Ramsay, Beckham, et al. They clinched the dominant NFC West with a commanding 12-5 record — their best finish since 2018 when the team went 13-3 and made it to the Super Bowl — and were one of the most well-rounded playoff teams. Coincidentally, they tied the Bengals for the seventh-most points scored in the regular season. The team ranked ninth in total offensive yards, fifth in passing yards and seventh in sacks allowed. The Rams defense allowed the sixth-fewest rushing yards and ranked fifth in Football Outsiders’ DVOA. The Rams were the only team to rank in the top eight for all three phases of the game (offense, defense and special teams).
The most significant individual transaction from a betting perspective was acquiring Stafford, which moved the market immediately. At PointsBet, the Rams went from +2000 to win the Super Bowl in Feb. 2021 down to +1400 in March 2021. Their odds to win the NFC went from +900 to +700. At DraftKings, the Rams were at +1100 in March 2021, tied with the Buccaneers for the third-lowest odds behind the Chiefs (+575) and Packers (+900).
Stafford threw for 4,886 yards in 17 games in his first season with the Rams, which was third-most in the NFL, beating out Patrick Mahomes, Dak Prescott, Josh Allen and Aaron Rodgers. His 41 touchdowns were second-most in the league behind only Tom Brady, who had 43. In contrast, Goff threw for 3,952 yards, 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions over 15 games in his final year with the Rams.
If Stafford were to lead his team to a win in the big game on Sunday, he would become the first quarterback to win a Super Bowl in his first year after a trade, per The Action Network’s Matt Mitchell.
M. Stafford would be the 1st QB to win a #SuperBowl in his 1st year after a trade
Closest was in '68, when Earl Morrall landed in Baltimore to replace an injured Johnny Unitas
Morrall won MVP but his Colts lost to Namath’s Jets in Super Bowl III. Morrall was benched at half
— Matt Mitchell (@olboyunclemitch) February 2, 2022
Defensive additions such as Miller, Floyd and Ramsey further edified Los Angeles’ pass rush and secondary. The Rams recorded the third-most sacks (50) behind the Steelers and Vikings and tied the Bills and Colts for the third-most interceptions (19) during the regular season. Floyd and Miller accounted for 14.5 sacks, or 29% of the team’s total, and each had a forced fumble. Ramsey led the team in takeaways and tallied four interceptions, or 21% of the team’s total, and one forced fumble.
Offensive additions such as Michel and Beckham were crucial as well. Michel added much-needed depth to the team’s running back corps after Akers went down and was the team’s top rusher with 845 yards and four touchdowns. Beckham’s timely addition came one day before it was announced Robert Woods was done for the year after tearing his ACL during practice. Beckham had struggled to find his stride with the Browns, tallying zero touchdowns through the first six weeks. He ended his eight-game season for the Rams with five touchdowns — just one fewer than the team’s No. 2 receiver, Jefferson, who played all 17 games for the team. Beckham is coming off of a nine-catch, 113-yard monster game against the 49ers.