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Rams’ roster changes, Aaron Donald’s future on mind before repeat

Rams roster changes Aaron Donalds future on mind before repeat


No team has won consecutive Super Bowls since the New England Patriots at the end of the 2003 and 2004 seasons.

Are the Rams, fresh off their Super Bowl LVI victory, capable of repeating?

“Certainly,” wide receiver Cooper Kupp, the Super Bowl most valuable player, said Monday during a news conference. “If you’re going into a season and didn’t think that you can win it all, that would be a pretty depressing place to play from. … You go into every year believing that, understanding, though, that there’s much work that needs to be done.”

Kupp will remain a centerpiece next season, but there will be changes to the roster when the new league year and free agency begin in March and after the NFL draft in April.

The biggest question, which came to the forefront in the hours before the Super Bowl, is whether star defensive tackle Aaron Donald will return for a ninth season.

After Sunday’s 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, Donald did not dismiss a television report that he might retire.

“I’m just in the moment right now,” Donald said. “I’m going to enjoy this with my teammates, my family, and I’m just going to be in the moment and enjoy this for today, a couple days.”

Kevin Demoff, the Rams’ chief operating officer, noted that Donald, 30, and 36-year-old coach Sean McVay — who could reportedly command $10 million per year were he to take a break from coaching and work as a broadcaster — just had completed the longest season in NFL history.

“All these guys are wiped,” Demoff said, adding, “Someone once told me the hardest thing about winning the Super Bowl is you wake up the next morning and it’s the next season, right? … That’s daunting to some degree.”

So, questions about whether there is energy for players and coaches to do it again are “natural” and difficult to answer in the moment, Demoff said.

Rams coach Sean McVay congratulates defensive lineman Aaron Donald (99) during Super Bowl LVI. Both refuse to address their futures for now as they continue to bask in championship joy.

(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

“A month away, two months away from everybody, and I think things will feel a lot better,” he said.

Donald has three seasons remaining on the six-year, $135-million extension he signed in 2018. He has outperformed what at the time was the largest contract for a defensive player in NFL history.

“When you get to the Super Bowl, everybody’s worthy, you know, of having things looked at,” Demoff said. “When you win, everybody on the team is probably deserving of a raise of merit.”

Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who earned $3 million in incentives during the Super Bowl run, is one of eight key players scheduled to become unrestricted free agents, a group that includes outside linebacker Von Miller, running back Sony Michel, cornerback Darious Williams, defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day, and offensive linemen Joe Noteboom, Austin Corbett and Brian Allen.

Beckham, who suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in 2020, signed with the Rams in November after he was released by the Cleveland Browns.

During the Super Bowl, Beckham left the game after suffering what is believed to be a torn ACL in the same knee, a person with knowledge of the situation said. Beckham caught two passes for 52 yards, including a 17-yard touchdown in the first quarter, before he was injured and assisted off the field less than four minutes before halftime.

“It was heartbreaking to see that,” McVay said Monday. “He was in line to have a big game.”

Demoff said Beckham provided “some swagger and brought a joy and an energy” to the Rams.

“Watching him moonwalk after scoring a touchdown in the Super Bowl I thought was exactly what you’d expect,” Demoff said. “He made a great play to help us win the Lombardi Trophy and then celebrated in a unique way. …

“We don’t have a trophy without him.”

Etc.

A parade honoring the Rams will be held Wednesday. It will begin at the Shrine Auditorium at 11 a.m. and end at the Olympic Plaza and Peristyle Arch at the Coliseum.





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