L.A. Rams represent cautionary tale for KC Chiefs

INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 30: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams throws the ball during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 30: Matthew Stafford #9 of the Los Angeles Rams throws the ball during the first half against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium on October 30, 2022 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /

There is absolutely no way to keep everyone happy at all times, even if you’re Brett Veach. This is true for everyone in personal and professional relationships, in team settings, inside of a family unit – any grouping of people that you find yourself in, there’s always going to be one or two people minimum who disagree with you or who you just rub the wrong way, and the same vice versa.

So when you look at the reactions to each of the last five Kansas City Chiefs offseasons, it’s no surprise that you get the good, but mostly the bad and the ugly reactions from fans on social media, during unwarranted water cooler conversations at the office, or at the bar or whatever local establishment you find yourselves talking shop with other members of the Kingdom.

It’s impossible to keep everyone happy at all times, especially when you’re Brett Veach.

In all reality, offseasons for Chiefs fans have been both maddeningly uneventful in the terms of the public eye and massively effective in terms of the product that the Chiefs continue to put on the field. Think about that for a second: the Chiefs have mostly failed to land a big-name free agent or trade target in the past five years, but still find themselves at 8-2 in 2022 and on the verge of their seventh consecutive AFC West championship.

What lessons can the Kansas City Chiefs learn from how the underwhelming 3-7 Los Angeles Rams got to this point?

Do you know who does take big swings for players like the ones that 90% of the internet clamors over Brett Veach not reaching on? The Chiefs’ divisional opponents, who are a combined 11-19. Also in that camp are the 3-7 defending Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams, who will visit Arrowhead Stadium for the first time since leaving our brothers and sisters to the east in St. Louis high and dry en route to glitz, glamor, smog, marine layers, and half-full stadiums (and Super Bowl rallies) in LA.

How many times over the past several seasons has it seemed like Chiefs Kingdom collectively said “Why couldn’t we make that deal?” You don’t see fans in Los Angeles saying that! Just last season alone the Rams traded for Von Miller and signed Odell Beckham, Jr. en route to a Super Bowl championship spearheaded by those two, quarterback Matthew Stafford, and home-grown Rams for life Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald. The problem with all that? Stafford is injured from years of abuse in Detroit, Kupp is done for the season for the second time in three years, and Beckham, Jr, and Miller are no longer donning Rams uniforms.

It can happen like that for a franchise that has set the precedent that draft picks do not mean much to them. Over the course of the last six seasons, the Rams have found a way to trade away their first-round picks in seven consecutive drafts.

2017: Rams traded this pick to move up for Jared Goff in 2016, who they later traded to Detroit for Matt Stafford.

2018: Rams traded this first-round for Brandin Cooks, who is now wasting away in Houston.

2019: Rams traded this first-round pick to move down and acquire second- and third-round picks from Atlanta. These picks ultimately turned into Darrel Henderson who is now on the Jags, David Long who backs up Jalen Ramsey, and a couple more guys who are no longer on the teams.

2020 and 2021: Rams traded these first-rounders for Jalen Ramsey.

2022 and 2023: Rams traded these first-rounders for Matthew Stafford.

You could make the argument that even though the Rams are 3-7 this year and essentially out of contention barring a miraculous turnaround complemented by a couple of monumental collapses from other NFC teams, their freewheeling has paid off with the Lombardi trophy they brought home last February. That’s all fine and well, but isn’t the point of making so many moves year after year to be competitive year after year? The Rams will enter 2023 with questions surrounding the futures of Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford, and head coach Sean McVay. That’s all without the luxury, once again, of having a first-round draft pick.

To make matters worse, they travel to Kansas City on Sunday to take on a team that is barreling in the exact opposite direction as them in 2022 in the Chiefs. And as different as the seasons are going for the Rams and Chiefs in 2022, the off-seasons and overarching theologies of general managers Brett Veach and Les Snead have proven more polar over time than the gaps in the 8-2 and 3-7 records of their teams respectively.

Veach has kept Kansas City at the top of the flock in the NFL over the course of the past five seasons by being calculated, strategic, and – dare I say it – frugal. Outside of the Orlando Brown, Jr. trade and Joe Thuney signing in 2021 after the absolute meltdown by the Chiefs offensive line in Super Bowl 55, Veach has slowly but surely continued to add massive contributors to each side of the ball that has come with relatively manageable price tags.

Are we still feeling the aftershock of the huge Frank Clark contract that may or may not have been worth it? Sure, but think back to the argument for all of the Rams’ moves being worth it with the Super Bowl 56 win. Do the Chiefs win Super Bowl 54 without Clark? Neither you nor I can answer that question with full-chested confidence, but I would argue that his contributions during that run certainly paid hefty dividends to the Chiefs’ first championship run in 50 years. And Clark is still with the team contributing to an extent, which is more than the Rams can say for a couple of their high-profile additions who ring chased then bounced.

To say that the Rams don’t have greener pastures ahead of them would be foolish. If Matthew Strafford gets back on the field and elects to continue playing, he will certainly provide a boost to the Rams’ currently anemic offense. Cooper Kupp is one of the best players on the planet when he’s healthy. But defensively the Rams are a lot further from a juggernaut than they are a rebuilding unit, particularly with little to no “oomph” in the pass rush category at the moment.

But will L.A. continue to try to “reload” by adding high-priced free agents and trading away more draft capital? That seems to be the only option that they’ve allowed themselves with their current draft situation. They certainly don’t have the luxury of building a young nucleus around an elite QB/pass catcher and dominant interior defensive lineman with a bevy of draft picks, even after they did lose another elite pass catcher last off-season. That would be a great thing to be able to do, right?

There is always more than one way to skin a cat. The Rams have successfully brought home a Super Bowl championship by making splash moves that have paid off immediately but may not do so in the long run. The Chiefs have done the opposite with splash moves, but yet again find themselves as one of the 2-3 betting favorites for a Super Bowl championship. For Brett Veach, the question has never been “Rebuild or reload?”. It’s just been a steady focus on continuing to grow and build. It’s paid off for the last decade, and Chiefs fans should use the diametrically opposed practices of the Rams as a cautionary tale the next time they decide to get upset about KC missing out on trading for or signing a big-name player.

Next. Ranking every trade Veach has ever made. dark