The Rams moved to Los Angeles in 2016 with high hopes, but even after trading up to get a new quarterback in the draft their first season back in LA was disappointing. In 2017 they hired Sean McVay as their new head coach, and the youngster sparked an offensive-driven turnaround that saw the Rams become one of the most exciting teams in the NFL. In 2017 they won their division for the first time in 13 years, but they failed to win a playoff game, in 2018 they were even better and made it all the way to the Super Bowl before being thwarted by the Patriots.
In Madden 19 the Rams are one of the most talented teams available. They have an 88 overall rating with a 93 rated offense and an 87 rated defense. This makes them well-balanced and extremely deadly for online play. It also means they are going to be a Super Bowl contender in Franchise Mode. However, not everything is as rosy as it seems in LA. The Rams have a lot of impending free agents and very little cap space. They went all in on the 2018 season, so keeping them competitive in Franchise Mode is going to be a challenge.
Los Angeles Rams Cap Space
The Rams start Franchise Mode with just $19.8 million in cap space. This will be increased when you cut the roster down to 53, but it still won’t be a lot. There are 25 players that can be cut without leaving any dead money on your cap, but many of them are vital starters. The likes of Ndamukong Suh, Marcus Peters, and Lamarcus Joyner are on the Rams to give them the defensive bite they need to go all the way, without them they are just another unbalanced pretender.
The biggest gains are to be made but cutting well-paid backups like Ethan Westbrooks ($1.53m) and Matt Longacre ($1.9m), but after handing market-setting extensions to Aaron Donald and Todd Gurley the Rams have very little wiggle room for years to come, and some tough decisions have to be made if you want this team to stay at the top for a long time.
Los Angeles Rams Impending Free Agents
The Rams have 25 players entering the final year of their contract. A lot of these are 60-70 OVR players at the bottom of the roster that are easily replaced, but there are also several terrific players that will be missed should they leave.
The priority here should be Lamarcus Joyner. The Rams secondary has good starters but is not very deep and they have to carry a lot more of the coverage responsibilities than most teams because their linebackers are poor. As a result, having an athletic and high-quality free safety like Joyner is a must. He’s just 27, so you will still get some peak years during his next contract.
You also have edge rusher Dante Fowler Jr as an impending free agent. The Rams traded a 3rd round pick for him in 2018 and his presence only makes the interior pressure of Aaron Donald even more deadly. At 24 he has plenty of room to grow and he is already a good outside pass rusher. Middle linebacker Cory Littleton is also the Rams best linebacker and will be a free agent after season 1, as will left guard Rodger Saffold III who is the teams second-best offensive lineman. See what I mean about tough choices? And this is before we even get to brilliance of veteran defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh who is on a 1-year, $14 million deal right now.
Other key free agents: Troy Hill (CB), Sam Shields (CB), CJ Anderson (HB), Morgan Fox (DE)
Los Angeles Rams Roster Needs
The Rams offense is a machine in Madden 19. Todd Gurley is amazing, Brandin Cooks is an 88 OVR wide receiver on a fresh 6 year deal and not far behind him is Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp. However, there are impending issues. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is 36 and could disappear to retirement at any moment, as could center John Sullivan. Then there is quarterback Jared Goff.
The former first-overall pick has two years left on his contract. His cap hit will peak at $7.85 million in 2019 which is a great price for any starting quarterback, but any contract extension is likely to double that hit and at 83 OVR with shaky accuracy down field he is not necessarily worth that investment, especially when Donald, Gurley, and Cooks will combine for a $28.43 million cap hit in 2020. If you intend to take the Rams deep into the future on Franchise Mode then you will have to make a decision on Goff and perhaps be prepared to recoup some value by trading him and find a different solution at quarterback.
Away from the offense the Rams need help at linebacker. They currently run a 3-4 defense, making Cory Littleton (77 OVR) and former safety Mark Barron (77 OVR) as the two middle linebackers. This isn’t great since Littleton is a free agent after season 1. If you were to switch to a 4-3 defense then you would need to find yourself another edge defender, maybe two if you can’t re-sign Dante Fowler. The Rams defense is built around getting terrific production from Aaron Donald and Ndamukong Suh up front and using Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to lock down receivers, but in Madden 19 you need more than that. Improving at linebacker should be the top priority in free agency and the draft after season 1. CJ Mosley, Ryan Shazier, and Anthony Barr are all impending free agents that could be a terrific addition to the team if you can find the cap space to sign one of them.
The Rams should be a Super Bowl contender in season 1 of Franchise Mode, and season 2 as well. The trouble will come when you either have to invest cap space in Jared Goff or a ton of draft capital in a new quarterback option. Season 3 is likely to be a big step back for the Rams and it will take some hard work to keep them atop the NFC West.