After taking some time to consider his NFL future, Sean McVay has decided to return as the Los Angeles Rams‘ head coach in 2023, as ESPN first reported. McVay and the Rams won a Super Bowl just 11 months ago, but a 5-12 record in 2022, the possibility of a long-term rebuild in L.A., family concerns, and general burnout all reportedly led the 36-year-old to contemplate retirement.
Instead, McVay will be back for his seventh season in Los Angeles, where there will be several burning questions throughout the offseason. Can the Rams manage a quick turnaround and become a playoff contender as soon as next season? And how does McVay’s return affect the rest of the L.A.’s coaching staff?
Sean McVay Will Coach the Rams in 2023
As McVay’s Rams look to return to relevancy in 2023, there should be at least one positive element on the horizon: injury luck.
Los Angeles dealt with horrendous health issues at nearly every spot on their depth chart. Matthew Stafford, Cooper Kupp, and Allen Robinson — the core of the Rams’ offense — each suffered injuries, while nearly the entirety of the club’s offensive line went down. If L.A.’s injury luck regresses to the mean next season, improved health alone should lead to a few extra wins.
But the Rams will also need to augment their roster. General manager Les Snead should be searching for help along the offensive line, another pass catcher, an extra pass rusher, and depth in the secondary.
Los Angeles has already traded its first- and fourth-round picks in this year’s draft, but they will have extra selections in the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds. Snead’s front office has shown an aptitude for getting the most out of late-round draft choices, and they need to get younger after finishing the season as the NFL’s third-oldest team by snap-weighted age.
The Rams are projected to be nearly $10 million over the salary cap in 2023, and they don’t have a ton of release candidates that would save them money against the cap.
Instead, L.A. will likely restructure the deals of players like Kupp, Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey, Leonard Floyd, and Robinson. They can push money into the future to create more cap space in the present, but such maneuvers will only make it more difficult to cut those players down the line.
In a weak NFC where the conference’s sixth and seventh seeds both reached only nine wins, the Rams aren’t that far away from competing again. They’ll likely have to dig themselves into a deeper financial hole in order to add talent, but with McVay back in the fold, a win-now strategy is the team’s only option.
What Does McVay’s Return Mean for the Rams’ Coaching Staff?
Now that he’s decided to return, McVay can get to work sorting out the rest of his coaching staff. McVay — who had told Rams assistants he would not block them from leaving this offseason, even for a lateral move — is now working through “potential staff changes” for next year, per NFL Media.
Los Angeles had a “contingency plan” in place had McVay decided to retire, as Rams COO Kevin Demoff told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday. Demoff didn’t reveal who L.A. had in mind to take over for McVay. Still, it’s fair to assume internal candidates like defensive coordinator Raheem Morris and assistant head coach/tight ends Thomas Brown, both of whom are drawing head coach interest, would have been considered for a promotion.
Morris has already interviewed with the Colts and has a meeting lined up with the Broncos, while the Texans have requested permission to interview Brown. Even if those top lieutenants remain in place next season, McVay still needs to find a new offensive coordinator.
McVay calls the Rams’ offensive plays, but he’s always had a trusted aide in the OC role. Matt LaFleur and Kevin O’Connell filled that position before landing head coaching jobs, while 2022 coordinator Liam Coen just returned to the University of Kentucky.
If McVay wants to relieve some of his daily pressures as head coach, it’s not impossible to think he could relinquish his duties as a play-caller. In that case, Brown or passing game/coordinator Zac Robinson would profile as strong candidates to take over. Alternatively, the Rams could look at outside options like former Colts head coach Frank Reich or former Cardinals head coach (and McVay friend) Kliff Kingsbury.