The Los Angeles Rams’ commitment to bucking orthodoxy is admirable. Rather than following the regular old blueprint of slowly and methodically building through the draft, the Rams are instead looking to microwave success year in, year out. They do not care for the recent fetishization of draft picks. They want good players, not high-value picks. And they want them all right now.
On Monday, the Rams shipped out a second- and third-round pick to acquire former All-Pro pass-rusher Von Miller from the Broncos. For any other franchise, it would represent a seismic move: a pair of valuable draft picks in return for what is effectively a 10-game (they hope) rental. For the Rams, the Oprah of draft equity, it was a humdrum Monday. You get a draft pick! And you get a draft pick!
It didn’t even matter that the Rams couldn’t absorb Miller’s cap hit. Adding a soon-to-be free agent for a second-round pick would have been a costly sum all of its own. LA tacked on the third-round pick so that the Broncos would absorb $9m of Miller’s remaining salary, allowing the Rams to sneak Miller under the cap.
This is what it looks like when a team goes, as they say, all in. It is normal in basketball and baseball: teams selling their future to better their odds ever so slightly in the now. Yet in the NFL, with a hard cap and a settled draft order, picks are the must-have commodity – all the more so since the 2011 CBA applied cheap salary slots to the draft order.
Related: Rams’ powerhouse defense strengthens with trade for Super Bowl MVP Miller
But Les Snead, Sean McVay and the Rams brain trust don’t care about the standard mode of operating. Ever since McVay was hired, the Rams have tried to remove doubt from the talent acquisition business: targeting high-end targets with multiple drafts picks. Better to burn valuable picks on established players in their prime than take a swing on a couple of college kids who could turn out to be busts, the theory goes….