After a series of block buster transactions that rung in the NFL’s new league year, the Los Angeles Rams made a smaller but significant move, by agreeing to terms on a one year contact with punt returner/wide receiver Brandon Powell. Details were not released.
Powell was signed to the Rams practice squad last November and when activated to the game day roster, sparked an LA return game that had been uninspiring up to that point. Cooper Kupp, Sony Michel, Bennett Skowronek, Tutu Atwell, JJ Koski, Jake Funk, and Buddy Howell all had returns with little success.
We have agreed to terms on a one-year deal with WR Brandon Powell! ⤵️— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) March 19, 2022
Making an entrance
In his first game with in LA, Powell excited Rams fans by returning the opening kickoff for 65 yards against the Jacksonville Jaguars. Over the final six games of the regular season, he returned eight kickoffs for 208 yards, a 26.0 average. He returned six punts for 133 yards at a 22.2 yard average and was named NFL Special Teams Player of the week for an electrifying 61 yard touchdown return versus the Minnesota Vikings in week 16.
During the Rams playoff run, on the road to beating the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI, Powell returned five kickoffs for 88 yards and nine punts for 104 yards. He did not have a fumble in the regular season or playoff run.
Welcome back Returner/WR Brandon Powell! Powell returns to the Rams after a very impressive 9 games (including post season) with the club. Powell proved to be a very reliable on Punts and Kickoffs with sure hands, great ability to track punts, and of course turn the ball upfield pic.twitter.com/qC2W2siOvt— RAMS ON FILM (@RamsOnFilm) March 19, 2022
As deep as the Rams wide receiver unit is, Powell could offer some value there as well. He only recorded three offensive snaps last season, but has logged time as a receiver with both the Detroit Lions and Atlanta Falcons. His career numbers are a modest 23 catches for 198 yards with two touchdowns and three rushes for 11 yards, his true value is as an open field runner.
The road to LA
Originally signed in 2018 by the Detroit Lions as an undrafted free agent out of Florida. He was not a return specialist in Motown, with only four total returns, two each on kickoffs and punts, but he did earn one start at wide receiver. For the year, he totaled 11 catches for 129 yards.
He moved on to Atlanta for 2019 but didn’t see action with the Falcons until 2020. That season he returned 17 punts for 152 yards and 17 kickoffs for 343 yards. On offense, he chipped in 12 receptions for 69 yards and two touchdowns.
At Florida, he had a four solid seasons. He made 131 catches for 1330 yard with nine touchdowns as well as 33 kickoff returns for 671 yards and 17 punt returns for 61 yards.
Powell’s role in 2022
Brandon Powell brought stability and excitement to the Rams return game. His vision and ability to cut at speed kept fans invigorated in the possibilities, not clenching in the dread of something negative. He made the return game fun again.
Hard to project much, if any, role on offense, but would love to see him get a few touches in space. The Rams top receivers are bigger, stronger runners, Powell’s darting style would be a nice compliment.