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How the Rams could shelve both Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford

L.A. has only one “designate to return” tag remaining

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Should the Rams shut down Cooper Kupp and Mathew Stafford?
Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Now that the Los Angeles Rams have sunk into last place in the NFC West, one of the hot topics is whether their nicked up stars Cooper Kupp and Matthew Stafford should be shut down for the remainder of the 2022 season.

On one side, you have fans declaring that since the season is dead, there is no need to put these star players through the risk of playing with behind an offensive line that was already struggling before being gutted by injuries. On the other side, you have those who think that if you are cleared to play—you should. Players get paid a lot of money for their work and if healthy, should be on the field to earn it.

From this point of the season until it concludes, most, if not all, players are beaten down to varying extents. It’s a losing year and there are seven games left to be played. So, who gets to sit out? Where on the roster do you draw the line? Should it be just the top handful of stars or anyone on the the starting units, who decides? If the stars can sit out on their own accord, without an injury designation, should fans/consumers get a discount on tickets, parking and food if they choose to travel to a game? The angles and arguments could go on and on.

There is an out, at least for Kupp, Stafford, and the Rams organization. Best of all, it would probably go nearly unquestioned. Coop is already on the Injured Reserve List (IR) and cannot be designated for return for a minimum of four weeks, placing Staff on the IR would result in the same. L.A. could then “conveniently” run out of return designations and placate both sides of the shut ‘em down/don’t shut ‘em down argument.

Currently, by my best count, the Rams have a single “designate to return” roster move left available to them. The NFL rules for 2022 allow for eight players to be returned from IR and other reserve lists, and the Rams have already made six such moves with one more player set to return any day now.

According to the transactions page on the L.A. Rams official website:

  1. Linebacker Travin Howard- out 7/24 and returned 11/5
  2. Safety Quintin Lake- out 7/24 and returned 11/12
  3. Running back Kyren Williams- out 9/13 and returned 11/12
  4. Cornerback Troy Hill- out 9/20 and returned 10/29
  5. Wide receiver Van Jefferson- out 9/24 and returned 10/29
  6. Center/guard Coleman Shelton- out 10/8 and returned 11/12
  7. Guard David Edwards- out 10/11 and designated for return 11/16 (Rams have 21 days to activate)

Ready, or soon to be, for reactivation to the roster: NFL rules call for sitting out minimum four weeks/games

Edge Daniel Hardy- out with a high ankle sprain on 9/1

Safety Jordan Fuller- out for two-to four weeks with a strained hamstring on 10/8

Cornerback Grant Haley- out for four-to-six weeks with a knee MCL sprain on 10/18

Linebacker Jake Hummel- out four-to-six weeks with a strained groin on 11/5

Guard Chandler Brewer- out four-to-six weeks with MCL surgery on 11/16

Does it really matter?

Probably not. If any star player wants to sit out, he will. Some mysterious ailment will suddenly be diagnosed, or the infamous personal problem will rear its head. Luckily for fans, most star players, even those on under-achieving teams, are so ultra-competitive that they want to be on the field to the bitter end.

Journeymen and bottom of the roster guys don’t warrant the same treatment, playing with dependent damage and until the last gun is a necessity. To them, getting any work on film, mop up or not, is a chance to impress their coaches, or the opposition’s, and move up the NFL food chain. Maybe then, fans can argue about them and whether-or-not they should sit out the final games of a season gone awry.