Rams Rumors

Rams Finalize 2024 Coaching Staff

The Rams were one of several teams forced to reconstruct their coaching staff this offseason. While it’s always a challenge to replace staff, the Rams aren’t doing it because they needed to fire anybody, they’re simply replacing coaches who moved on to bigger jobs. Head coach Sean McVay is doing what he’s done year after year, bringing in a new staff that is sure to flourish under his tutelage.

On offense, we were already aware of the hires of quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone to replace Zac Robinson, senior offensive assistant Jerry Schuplinski, and offensive assistant and pass game specialist Nate Scheelhaase, though the “offensive assistant” part of that title is new information.

In addition, since the departed Robinson had held the title of pass-game coordinator, that moniker has transferred to tight ends coach Nick Caley. Lastly, with offensive assistants K.J. Black and Nick Jones following Robinson and former defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to Atlanta, Los Angeles has brought in former Jets quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese as a new offensive assistant. Calabrese takes a step back after spending three years in his first NFL position coaching job.

The defensive side of the ball is where the most change will commence, since Morris departed to become the next head coach of the Falcons. We have already reported on Giff Smith‘s replacement of Eric Henderson as defensive line coach and run game coordinator and the hiring of former Eagles defensive coordinator Sean Desai as a senior defensive assistant, as well as the departure of assistant head coach Jimmy Lake, who left to become Morris’ defensive coordinator in Atlanta.

Los Angeles’ update informed us on some pending information for the rest of the defensive staff. First, we had heard that former Packers pass-game coordinator Greg Williams had interviewed for the Rams inside linebackers coaching job, and now we know that he has officially been hired for the role, replacing Chris Shula following his promotion to defensive coordinator. Formerly the secondary coach, Chris Beake‘s official title has been altered to safeties coach, and while assistant defensive line coach AC Carter interviewed for the position that went to Smith after Henderson’s exit, Carter will simply remain in his current role. Additionally, outside linebackers coach Joe Coniglio, defensive backs coach and pass game coordinator Aubrey Pleasant, and defensive assistant Mike Harris have all been retained by Shula in their current roles.

Lastly, on special teams, the Rams hired Chili Davis as assistant special teams coach to replace Jeremy Springer, who departed to become special teams coordinator in New England. Davis will take his first NFL job after coaching for the last 11 years in various college gigs. Most recently, he served as special teams coordinator at Florida A&M in 2022 before going to Manhattan to serve as Kansas State’s special teams quality control coach. Also, on the coaching staff, John Streicher has been brought on board to serve as game management coordinator. Streicher spent the last six seasons in Tennessee, most recently serving as the Titans director of football administration.

There you have it: the 2024 coaching staff for the Rams. McVay is certainly used to shuffling his staff at this point in his career in Los Angeles. He was able to rebound from a rough 2022 season to get back to the playoffs, and with this new staff, he’ll try to get back to the pinnacle of the sport after winning it all in 2021.

NFC Coaching Updates: Falcons, Vikings, Garcia, Glenn

As the offseason chugs along, teams continue to reconstruct their coaching staffs. The Falcons made a number of moves just before the weekend, according to Michael Rothstein of ESPN. The staff continues to take shape under new head coach Raheem Morris.

On offense, two announcements were made on assistants looking to hold over from Arthur Smith‘s staff last year. Rothstein reports that assistant offensive line coach Shawn Flaherty and offensive assistant Patrick Kramer, who each came to Atlanta last offseason, will be retained in their previous positions.

A new hire was announced, as well, with the team naming Jacquies Smith as their new outside linebackers coach. Formerly a seven-year NFL defensive end, the former undrafted player out of Missouri will now accept his first NFL coaching position. After disappearing from the NFL-world for a spell and making an appearance in the XFL, Smith worked with draft-eligible players in pre-draft training. He most recently spent the 2023 season as an assistant edge coach for the Texas Longhorns.

In the front office, the team announced the hires of John Griffin as director of player performance and Rob Dadona as manager of coaching operations. Griffin follows Morris after spending the past three years with the Rams. Dadona replaces Brian Griffin, who departed to serve as Chief of Staff at the University of Maryland. Dadona spent the past five seasons with the Jets, serving as assistant to the head coach for the last three.

Here are a few other staff updates from around the NFC, starting with a couple out of Minneapolis:

  • The Vikings announced two staff additions this weekend, naming assistant offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett and assistant to the head coach Henry Schneider IV. Sarrett replaces Justin Rascati, who departed for Los Angeles to serve as the Chargers pass-game coordinator. The two essentially swapped places, as Sarrett spent the past three years in the assistant offensive line coaching role with the Chargers. Schneider spent the last five years with the Raiders, most recently as the manager of coaching operations.
  • The Cowboys added a hot, young name out of Washington to their defensive staff this weekend. Cristian Garcia, who spent part of last year as the Commanders interim defensive backs coach, will head to Dallas as a defensive quality control coach, per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News. Garcia was a name that former Commanders head coach Ron Rivera turned to for leadership after firing defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio. Now he’ll join the NFC East rival.
  • Washington added their own coaching assistant last week. According to ESPN’s John Keim, John Glenn will join the staff as the Commanders’ new assistant special teams coach. Glenn replaces Ben Jacobs, who had served in the same role since following Rivera from Carolina in 2020 but was not retained by the new staff. Glenn changes roles a bit after spending the past six seasons as the Seahawks linebackers coach.

Rams To Hire Sean Desai

Sean Desai did not enjoy a successful stint as defensive coordinator of the Eagles in 2023. He appears to have his next NFL gig lined up, though; the veteran staffer is set to join the Rams in a senior defensive role, ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reports. He will work alongside the team’s offensive coaches while bringing a perspective from the opposite side of the ball, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic adds.

Desai joined Philadelphia last offseason to replace Jonathan Gannon as defensive coordinator. Expectations were high for the reigning NFC champions, and they started the campaign with a 10-1 mark. Things took a dramatic turn for the worse after that, however, and the team sputtered before being eliminated in the wild-card round. Desai’s unit was a key factor in the late-season struggles, and his role with the organization shifted along the way.

The Eagles stripped Desai of play-calling duties in December, handing over the position of de facto DC to Matt Patricia. In a move which came as little surprise, the former was fired after the campaign came to an end. Patricia’s contract is also up, so he will likely be working elsewhere in 2024. After pursuing him last offseason, the Eagles brought in Vic Fangio to lead their defense moving forward.

From 2021-23, Raheem Morris served as the Rams’ DC, drawing praise along the way. He parlayed his coordinator tenure into the Falcons’ head coaching gig last month, allowing him to return to Atlanta. Morris’ departure created a notable vacancy on Sean McVay‘s staff, one which was filled internally by the promotion of Chris Shula. Desai (as defensive coordinator with the Bears in 2021 and an associate head coach of the Seahawks before his Eagles stint) will offer considerable experience in Los Angeles.

The 40-year-old had interviews lined up with both the Falcons and Bills for their defensive coordinator positions, but to little he surprise he will not work in a DC capacity in 2024. Desai will aim to use the coming campaign as a transition year to rebound from an underwhelming showing in Philadelphia. The Rams posted middling numbers in several defensive categories last year, and he could help his stock by playing a part in improvement in 2024.

2024 NFL Cap Space, By Team

The NFL provided clarity to its teams on Friday by setting the salary cap ceiling ($255.4MM). Franchise tag figures have been locked in as well, and clubs can now proceed with their offseason planning knowing exactly where they stand with respect to financial flexibility. Courtesy of Over the Cap, here is the current landscape in terms of salary cap space:

  1. Washington Commanders: $79.61MM
  2. Tennessee Titans: $78.66MM
  3. Chicago Bears: $78.34MM
  4. New England Patriots: $77.96MM
  5. Indianapolis Colts: $72.34MM
  6. Houston Texans: $67.58MM
  7. Detroit Lions: $57.61MM
  8. Arizona Cardinals: $51.1MM
  9. Cincinnati Bengals: $50.67MM
  10. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $43.68MM
  11. Los Angles Rams: $43.11MM
  12. Las Vegas Raiders: $42.94MM
  13. Minnesota Vikings: $35.81MM
  14. Carolina Panthers: $34.57MM
  15. Atlanta Falcons: $33MM
  16. New York Giants: $30.8MM
  17. Philadelphia Eagles: $27.35MM
  18. Jacksonville Jaguars: $24.68MM
  19. Kansas City Chiefs: $18.19MM
  20. Baltimore Ravens: $16.63MM
  21. Seattle Seahawks: $12.97MM
  22. New York Jets: $12.76MM
  23. Pittsburgh Steelers: $9MM
  24. Green Bay Packers: $2.3MM
  25. San Francisco 49ers: $5.07MM over the cap
  26. Cleveland Browns: $7.76MM over
  27. Dallas Cowboys: $9.86MM over
  28. Denver Broncos: $16.81MM over
  29. Los Angeles Chargers: $25.61MM over
  30. Miami Dolphins: $27.92MM over
  31. New Orleans Saints: $42.11MM over
  32. Buffalo Bills: $43.82MM over

All teams must be cap compliant by the start of the new league year, but it will of course be more than just those currently over the limit which will make cost-shedding moves in the near future. Cuts, restructures and extensions are available as tools to carve out space in advance of free agency. Several have already taken place around the league.

That includes the Dolphins’ release of defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and the planned cut of Xavien Howard. The latter cannot be designated a post-June 1 release until free agency begins but once it happens, Miami will move much closer to cap compliance. The Saints have moved considerable commitments into the future via restructures (as usual), but more transactions on that front will be required even with the cap seeing an historic single-season jump.

The roughly $30MM spike from 2023 will provide unforeseen spending power for teams already set to lead the pack in cap space while also making the task of those at the bottom of the list easier. Spending more on backloaded contracts this offseason at the expense of future space obviously carries risk, however. Still, the news of a higher-than-expected ceiling will add further intrigue to each team’s financial planning.

With Dak Prescott and Deshaun Watson each set to carry record-breaking cap hits for 2024, the Cowboys and Browns will be among the teams most in need of working out a deal to lower those figures. In Dallas’ case in particular, an extension would provide immediate breathing room in addition to clarity on his future beyond the coming season. For Cleveland, Watson’s fully-guaranteed deal has already been restructured once and will need to be again to avoid consecutive years of a $64MM cap charge over its remaining term.

If the Commanders and Patriots add a quarterback with the second and third picks in this year’s draft, each team currently in the top six in space will enjoy the benefits of having a signal-caller on their rookie contracts. That would allow for an aggressive approach to free agency, although the Chiefs’ success after Patrick Mahomes signed (and re-worked) his monster extension has proven it is possible to win Super Bowl titles with a substantial QB investment on the books.

Rams To Re-Sign WR Demarcus Robinson

FEBRUARY 24: Providing further details on the pact, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk notes Robinson will receive $4MM in base compensation including a $1.5MM signing bonus. The other $1MM is comprised of incentives; Robinson can earn up to $500K with an offensive snap share of 50% or higher (after seeing a 36% usage rate in 2023), and another $500K is tied to the Rams’ ability to improve on their total offensive ranking or to repeat their playoff appearance. Regardless of how the incentives play out, the agreement will be a comfortable raise.

FEBRUARY 23: Becoming a key auxiliary pass catcher for the Rams, Demarcus Robinson will once again have the opportunity to stay with a club on a second contract. The former Chiefs supporting-caster reached a deal to stay with the Rams on Friday.

Robinson has agreed to terms to stay in Los Angeles on a one-year, $5MM deal, NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport tweets. Becoming a regular in a passing attack that featured the rapid rise of Puka Nacua, Robinson will be in line to work with the blossoming young talent and Cooper Kupp again in 2024. This marks a big raise for Robinson, who played for just $1.17MM in 2023.

Not a part of L.A.’s offense during the season’s first half, Robinson belatedly came through to help the team back to the playoffs. The former Chiefs draftee did not catch a pass as a Ram until Week 9. He did not top 40 yards in a game until Week 13. But Robinson delivered five straight such 40-plus-yard showings — including 82- and 92-yard outings against the Saints and Giants, respectively — from Weeks 13-17, helping the Rams clinch a playoff spot.

Overall, Robinson finished with 26 receptions for 371 yards and four touchdowns. He caught a touchdown pass in four straight games, developing a rapport with Matthew Stafford. Robinson effectively displaced Tutu Atwell, a former second-round pick who was given an extended look during the season’s first half. During Robinson’s five-game run as the Rams’ top tertiary target, Atwell (39-483-3) caught just one pass and played only a handful of offensive snaps.

Atwell’s rookie deal runs through 2024, and while the diminutive wideout has not made much of an impact with the Rams yet, the team now has its top four wideouts from 2023 locked in for the ’24 slate. This marks a nice development for Robinson, who did not catch on with the team until June of last year.

Robinson, 29, is best known for his work alongside Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill in Kansas City. The Florida alum topped 400 receiving yards in 2019 and ’20, helping the Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowls. Robinson, who re-signed with the Chiefs on two one-year deals following the expiration of his rookie contract, caught 14 touchdown passes during Patrick Mahomes‘ first four years as the team’s starter. The Ravens signed the 6-foot-1 receiver in 2022; as part of an injury-battered receiving corps, Robinson caught a career-high 48 passes for 458 yards and two scores with Baltimore.

The former fourth-round pick will have a chance to play a ninth season. With Robinson back in the fold, it does not seem like the Rams — who traded Van Jefferson early last season — will be too active at receiver this offseason.

Raiders Announce Finalized 2024 Coaching Staff

When the season ended, the Raiders stayed true to the wishes of many players, hiring interim head coach Antonio Pierce into the permanent role for the 2024 NFL season. Today, Las Vegas officially announced the entirety of the new staff under Pierce, cluing us into some developments that we hadn’t yet reported on. We were aware of the hires of offensive coordinator Luke Getsy, offensive line coach James Cregg, senior offensive assistant Joe Philbin, quarterbacks coach Rich Scangarello, assistant quarterbacks coach Fred Walker, and running backs coach Carnell “Cadillac” Williams on offense as well as the hiring of assistant head coach Marvin Lewis. Here’s a rundown of the remaining staff updates.

On the offensive side of the ball, with quarterbacks, running backs, and offensive line covered, Getsy made the call to retain Edgar Bennett as wide receivers coach. Bennett has an extensive history with star wideout Davante Adams as the two have spent time together in both Green Bay and Vegas. Last year’s tight ends coach Jerry Schuplinski is now a senior offensive assistant with the Rams, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, so former Bears assistant offensive line coach Luke Steckel has been hired in his place. Steckel previously coached tight ends in Tennessee in 2021 and 2022, mentoring Chigoziem Okonkwo to an impressive rookie season. Steckel will be assisted by newly promoted assistant tight ends coach Mitch Singler, who served the past two years as offensive quality control for the Raiders.

Additionally, pass game coordinator Scott Turner has officially been retained after being considered a candidate for the Patriots offensive coordinator position, and former Bears assistant tight ends coach Tim Zetts has been added to the staff with the title of assistant offense. Lastly on offense, we were aware that the new head coach’s son, De’Andre Pierce, would be joining the staff, but whereas his initial position was reportedly going to be offensive quality control coach, we now know that he will be an offensive assistant.

On the defensive side of the ball, we had some idea of the fate of defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, who had been permitted to take interviews for head coaching jobs but was being blocked from lateral moves, and those ideas are now confirmed as he’ll be retained as coordinator. The team’s announcement shows that defensive line coach Rob Leonard and senior defensive assistant Rob Ryan have been retained, as well. Additionally, Matt Feeney, who has spent the past two seasons as a defensive quality control coach, has been promoted to assistant defensive backs coach.

Also on defense, we knew of the hiring of Mike Caldwell as linebackers coach, but today’s announcement informed us that he’ll hold the additional title of run game coordinator, as well. We also saw initial reports that Ricky Manning Jr. was being brought on as defensive backs coach, but he is officially listed now as cornerbacks coach with former Steelers assistant defensive backs coach Gerald Alexander being hired to coach safeties. Alexander assisted with a secondary in Pittsburgh that included Minkah Fitzpatrick, Terrell Edmunds, Damontae Kazee, and Keanu Neal. Together, the two will replace Chris Ash, who was not retained as defensive backs coach, and Jason Simmons, who was recently hired as defensive pass-game coordinator in Washington. Also, we had reported the addition of former Jets defensive line coach Andre Carter to the staff, and we now know his new title in Las Vegas to be pass rush specialist.

Lastly on defense, we were informed of the hiring of Marcus Lewis as assistant linebackers coach and Josh Phillips as assistant defense. Lewis has recent experience as a defensive analyst at Arizona State and NFL experience after spending five years with the Bengals as an assistant working with the defensive line and linebackers. Phillips most recently served as head coach at Sarasota HS (FL), leading the team to a 1-9 record in his only season at the helm.

On special teams, we officially received word that both special teams coordinator Tom McMahon and assistant special teams coach Derius Swinton II would both be retained under Pierce. It appears that former NFL wideout Danny Amendola, who had been brought on as a coaching assistant to work specifically with returners, has not been retained, and Kade Rannings has been added to the staff as a second assistant special teams coach.

Lastly, the team announced that former director of football research and strategy Matt Sheldon will be on the sideline in the role of game management coach. Also, Jon Gruden‘s son, Deuce Gruden, is a surprising holdover as an assistant strength and conditioning coach after being retained by McDaniel’s staff following his father’s resignation in 2021.

There you have it. Though, much will remain the same with Pierce taking over the full-time role as head coach, plenty of changes were necessary. After another short head coaching stint by Josh McDaniels, Pierce seemed to rejuvenate a deflated squad to close the season. With a new staff of his own and a full offseason to work together, it will be interesting to see what Pierce will be able to accomplish in Las Vegas in 2024.

RFA/ERFA Tender Decisions: 2/23/24

Today’s only NFL tender decision:

ERFAs

Tendered:

Los Angeles Rams

One of two exclusive rights free agents for Los Angeles, Rivers should be sticking around in 2024. After establishing himself as an effective complementary rusher behind second-year Pro Bowler Kyren Williams, Rivers earns an offer to return as the expected RB2 next season.

Rams Want To Extend C Coleman Shelton

A day after releasing former starting center Brian Allen, the Rams want to retain the player who took over their snapping duties last year.

Sean McVay confirmed (via The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue) the team is attempting to reach an agreement to re-sign Coleman Shelton. The young interior O-lineman has the option of voiding the final year of his contract and hitting free agency.

After working primarily as a Rams backup from 2019-21, Shelton seized a starting guard job replacing the departed Austin Corbett in 2022. After an Allen injury during Week 1 of the 2022 season, Shelton moved to center. A 2023 offseason competition went Shelton’s way, and he started all 18 Rams games last season. Pro Football Focus graded Shelton as the league’s 17th-best center last season.

The center market cooled last year, allowing a few teams — the 49ers, Browns, Vikings and Panthers — to retain their previous pivots at reasonable rates. No free agent center agreed to a deal worth more than $6MM per year in 2023. Lloyd Cushenberry is expected to cost more this year, but the center market on the whole has seen better days.

Shelton, 28, has been with the Rams since arriving as a 2019 UDFA. He started at both guard and center in 2022 and joined most Rams O-linemen in missing time during that injury-plagued year. Shelton sustained a high ankle sprain in 2022 and missed four games, but he established himself as a starter — at both center and guard — in Los Angeles that year. The Washington alum parlayed that into a full-time gig, helping the Rams rebound on offense and return to the playoffs.

The Rams have Steve Avila signed through 2026, and left tackle Alaric Jackson is only eligible for restricted free agency this year. But Shelton and their other interior starter — guard Kevin Dotson — are moving toward free agency. After bouncing back in what many expected to be a rebuilding year, the Rams have some decisions to make along their O-line.

Rams Release C Brian Allen

Displaced as the Rams’ starting center, Brian Allen is now off the team’s roster. The Rams announced Wednesday they have released Allen, who had one season remaining on his contract.

Allen, who started for the team in Super Bowl LVI, had re-signed with the Rams on a three-year, $24MM deal back in 2022. The veteran only played 34 offensive snaps last season, however. The Rams will save $4.9MM by making this move.

Allen’s contract called for a $5MM base salary next season. Due to a restructure that included void years, the Rams will take on $3.15MM in dead money by releasing the six-year veteran. The Rams found Allen in the 2018 fourth round, turning to him as one of many Day 3 draftees to become regular starters. While Allen did enough to command a nice second contract, he found himself on the bench this past season.

The Rams turned to Coleman Shelton as their primary center in 2023, reorganizing their O-line. In 2022, the Rams had re-signed Allen and Joe Noteboom to respectively work as their center and left tackle starters. Neither deal panned out. The Rams drafted Steve Avila in the second round and acquired Kevin Dotson via trade last year; Alaric Jackson also beat out Noteboom for the left tackle gig. The shuffling left right tackle Rob Havenstein as the only Super Bowl starter remaining.

Injuries impeded Allen, 28, for much of his Rams career. He suffered a knee injury in Week 1 of the 2022 season, missing time due to a minor surgery. Allen ended up starting only seven games that season, with thumb and calf issues finishing his season early during a year that featured rampant Rams health issues up front. Allen also missed the entire 2019 season due to ACL and MCL tears, bouncing back to become the Rams’ starting center from 2020-21.

Pro Football Focus graded Allen as the league’s 10th-best center in 2021, but while he made 20 starts for the Super Bowl-winning Rams team, he played part of the season with a UCL tear in his elbow. The season still secured him a ring and a nice payday. The center market did not produce much of consequence last year, however, with a handful of teams being able to re-sign their pivots for cheap. This and a run of injuries does not bode too well for Allen, though the Michigan State alum has made 32 career starts and been in that role for two playoff teams.

Rams Add Two To Offensive Staff

The Rams have seen a number of coaching assistants depart for bigger jobs in 2024 on both sides of the ball. Today, the team filled two of the recently vacated positions on offense, bringing in one former offensive coordinator from the NFL and another from the college ranks.

Los Angeles was left with one of their two offensive vacancies when former quarterbacks coach and pass game coordinator Zac Robinson departed to follow former defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to Atlanta, where Morris will now serve as head coach. Robinson will be Morris’ new offensive coordinator for the Falcons. The other vacancy came when former pass game specialist Jake Peetz left for the pass game coordinator role in Seattle.

To replace Robinson as quarterbacks coach, per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Rams have hired the man Robinson will be replacing in Atlanta, former Falcons offensive coordinator Dave Ragone. Ragone has coached in the NFL since 2011, when he entered the NFL coaching ranks as the Titans wide receivers coach. He’s since served as the quarterbacks coach for both the Titans and Bears before taking the coordinator job in Atlanta.

In Ragone’s first season as a quarterbacks coach in 2013, he coached the duo of Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jake Locker in Tennessee for a season. Three years later, Ragone started a four-year stint in Chicago that would see him mentor the likes of Jay Cutler, Mitchell Trubisky, Matt Barkley, Brian Hoyer, Mike Glennon, and Chase Daniel. He would then move on to the Falcons as offensive coordinator. The team’s offense has struggled the past three years under Ragone as they have transitioned from Matt Ryan to Marcus Mariota to Desmond Ridder. Though he doesn’t show many signs of slowing down, with quarterback Matthew Stafford recently turning 36 years old in Los Angeles, Ragone could be in place to assist with future transitions at quarterback again after dealing with plenty in Chicago and Atlanta.

To fill Peetz’s former role of pass game specialist, the Rams reached down to the collegiate ranks to hire Iowa State offensive coordinator Nate Scheelhaase, according to Schefter. At only 33 years old, this will be Scheelhaase’s first NFL job, though he interviewed for the Eagles offensive coordinator job last offseason. After finishing a four-year playing career at Illinois, Scheelhaase stayed at his alma mater to coach from 2015-17.

In 2018, he made the move to Ames, starting off as a running backs coach. He spent the next two years as wide receivers coach, the two years after that as run game coordinator, running backs, and wide receivers coach, and the final year after that as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. Under his direction of the offense, the Cyclones putting up middling stats, performing better in the pass game than the run game behind redshirt freshman quarterback Rocco Becht.

As the Sean McVay coaching tree continues to extend away from him, the Rams will continue to reload around him. This time, McVay brings in a veteran with experience working with an unstable quarterbacks room and yet another up-and-comer who is sure to continue rising under the watchful eyes of McVay.