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Why the Rams may need to keep Bryce Perkins on the 53-man roster this year

L.A.’s need for quarterback insurance behind Matthew Stafford could extend to Perkins

Los Angeles Rams Mandatory Minicamp Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Bryce Perkins was in the same recruiting class as Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, and Kyler Murray, but to the L.A. Rams he is no veteran. He’s the third option behind Matthew Stafford and John Wolford, but given the attrition rate in the NFL and the complexity of Sean McVay’s offense, he is a lot closer to being a necessity for the Rams than we’ve usually come to expect from a QB3.

Most fans thought by 2022, we were well past any team’s having a need to use a third roster spot on a quarterback. McVay might have to do it with Perkins again and in fact he could be as close to a lock as any QB3 in the league.

A two-year starter at Virginia after transferring from Arizona State, Perkins had 844 pass attempts and 439 carries for the Cavaliers. He has since only made appearances in practices and a few 2021 preseason contests, but Perkins is a lot closer to being the backup in L.A. than you may have expected a year ago.

And I don’t mean the backup behind Stafford.

The job still belongs to John Wolford and there is no indication whatsoever that McVay will make a change there. Wolford was running with the starters earlier this week and he’s in his fourth training camp with McVay as his head coach. There’s nobody else who is going to come in and take that job from him, barring a dramatic rise from Perkins and so far we haven’t heard any news like that out of camp.

However, Wolford was only playing with the 1s this week because Stafford was resting a sore elbow. Therein lies the need for a third quarterback.

Stafford played a career-high 21 games in 2021. Never before did he play in more than 17 games. He threw 741 passes, including playoffs, which is the most he’s ever had in a single season. And Stafford has played in 16 seasons, including college.

With the NFL expanding its schedule to 17 games in 2021, and likely moving to 18 games in the next few years, teams will have a greater need to keep three quarterbacks and potentially it could even become commonplace to “load manage” the starters. Even as important as every game is in the NFL, is it worth it for McVay to turn to Wolford for one game if it means that he can give Stafford a full three week break if done around a bye week?

That’s another time when the Rams, or some other team load managing the starter, would obviously need someone else to be the backup.

And in this case, it’s not going to be Luis Perez.

Perkins is in his third Rams training camp and he made the final 53-man roster in 2021, to the surprise of many people. I still don’t see the upside to be an NFL starter, but Perkins is well suited to be a backup-to-the-backup in L.A.. No other quarterback could come in at this point and know the playbook or the personnel as well as Perkins.

Do I expect Stafford to play in every game this season? I actually kind of don’t. Even if that means the Rams getting to the point where they clinch a playoff berth and want to rest all their starters, I just don’t know that it is in Stafford or the team’s best interests to expect him to throw another 750 passes.

1,500 passes is not that much less than what Stafford had from 2016-2018, a period of three seasons. He only had 1,374 attempts in the three years prior to joining the Rams, having missed eight games in 2019.

It’s a lot of wear and tear on Stafford’s arm, body. Another reason that I think teams keeping two quarterbacks may be more of a “quick reprieve” than a permanent norm.

This could also lead to the league eventually increasing roster sizes from 53 to 55.