Matthew Stafford is a pillar of the Rams' remodel, GM says

LOS ANGELES (AP) — General manager Les Snead is remodeling the Los Angeles Rams, and he says quarterback Matthew Stafford will be a foundational part of his effort alongside Cooper Kupp and Aaron Donald.

Whether Jalen Ramsey, Allen Robinson or Leonard Floyd are part of that reconstruction project remains to be seen.

Snead swatted down rumors of a potential breakup between Stafford and the Rams on Thursday, saying he expects their Super Bowl-winning quarterback to be behind center in the fall.

Stafford is “definitely one of our pillars," Snead said. "He’s definitely someone we’re going to rely on, (who) we’re going to have to rely on as we do remodel this.”

The Rams have steadfastly backed the 35-year-old Stafford, but his future has been questioned around the league after he was limited to nine games last season by an apparent concussion and a bruised spinal cord. Stafford is entering the first season of the four-year, $160 million extension through 2026 that he signed after leading Los Angeles to its Super Bowl triumph in February 2022.

Snead all but guaranteed the Rams will stick with Stafford in the upcoming season and beyond as they look to refresh a roster that flopped amid massive injury woes last season. Stafford previously has said he is not considering retirement from the Rams, who finished 5-12.

“There are some players that have been there, done that,” Snead said. “That have shown they can change the math in a football game, Matthew Stafford being one of them. ... To me, in a rebuild, you would just bulldoze the house down and begin rebuilding from the ground up. But when you have someone like Matthew Stafford, players like Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, there's some weight-bearing walls there that we still have, and we're going to rely on those.”

Snead has repeatedly characterized the Rams' next chapter as a remodel, not a rebuild. That remodeling effort has already resulted in linebacker Bobby Wagner's departure, and Snead notably didn't include Ramsey in his list of the Rams' pillars.

Ramsey is a six-time Pro Bowl selection and the heart of the Rams' defense, but Snead declined to comment on whether the team is looking to trade a high-priced veteran who will get even more expensive with his next contract.

Snead's phone is busy these days: He estimates he has received availability inquiries on at least nine of his players as other NFL teams attempt to figure out what Snead is planning. Floyd could be traded or released after three years as a fairly productive edge rusher, while Robinson seems to be a candidate for departure after his first season in Los Angeles ended early due to injury.

The Rams must make moves to clear more than $15 million to get under the cap.

Sean McVay is very likely to be the coach leading the Rams' remodeled roster beyond next season, Snead also said. McVay strongly considered retirement or a broadcasting career in each of the past two offseasons, but Snead believes the youngest coach ever to win a Super Bowl is increasingly at peace with his high-stress job — even if television networks are still likely to come calling.

“I think when Sean sat down to determine whether he wanted to coach or not in 2023, it was more than just 2023,” Snead said. “It was for a longer-term range. So I don't think you're going to see Sean each year determine whether or not he wants to coach. I think he spent some time this year and figured it out.”

The Rams announced McVay's full coaching staff Thursday, confirming the addition of nine new assistants and the return of defensive backs coach Aubrey Pleasant, who was on McVay's staff from 2017-20.

Former University of Washington head coach Jimmy Lake will be McVay's assistant head coach, while Chase Blackburn is the new special teams coordinator. Ron Gould, who spent the past quarter-century coaching at three schools in Northern California, is joining his first NFL staff at 57 years old as McVay's running backs coach.

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Greg Beacham, The Associated Press