A few weeks ago, I wrote that Sean McVay had entered “Rams ain’t got time for that mode” this year and that the team would continue parting with players who didn’t get with the program just as they did with Allen Robinson and Cam Akers, among others. In that piece, I highlighted some names that could be next, having this to say about Van Jefferson, who was traded to the Atlanta Falcons on Tuesday for the rights to the “Happy Birthday” song:
When Kupp returns from IR, Jefferson could be the one to leave in order to make room.
It is no surprise that the Rams traded Jefferson in order to open up a roster spot for someone who might have a longer stay than he was destined to have, it is only surprising that Les Snead and McVay waited this long. Jefferson may have given his best effort, he could be a good locker room presence, he could do everything “the right way”, but the Rams ain’t got time for players who won’t help them win football games.
At 2-3 with the window closing on a chance to contend for the playoffs again with L.A.’s core of veteran stars, McVay has to see if he can stock the 53 with more valuable weapons.
Trading Jefferson, as was the case with trading Robinson, was a matter of addition by subtraction. As noted in the previous article, he wasn’t the first. As noted in that article and this one, he won’t be the last.
OL Joe Noteboom
Trading Noteboom carries moderate cap savings in either 2023 or 2024, but does save L.A. $10 million in cash next season. He has a non-guaranteed $10 million base salary but the Rams will still owe him the prorated amount of his signing bonus, which was always way too much money to begin with.
Now Noteboom has lost both the left tackle job and potentially the right guard job with Kevin Dotson stepping up lately, so his training camp mystery injury may turn out to be a trade to any of the many teams that are thin on the offensive line.
The Rams hesitated to trade Jefferson and Akers, why keep waiting on Noteboom? I have a hard time believing that as underwhelming as Noteboom has been for the Rams that there isn’t a contender out there that is desperate enough on the offensive line to ship a fifth round pick. How about the Carolina Panthers? They are not a contender, they’re 0-5, but they don’t have a first round pick next year anyway so they have no reason to tank. They need to help Bryce Young, their OC is Thomas Brown, and they’ve suffered a lot of interior offensive line injuries.
Noteboom to the Panthers for a fifth or a sixth should have happened yesterday.
CB Cobie Durant or CB Derion Kendrick
I wrote about Kendrick in the previous article but the situation has been exacerbated by the fact that Kendrick has become the “main character” at the end of the first half against the 49ers and the Eagles. Both times, Kendrick had two penalties and both times the other team scored a touchdown on the final play of the half. You can excuse a DPI against an elite player, you can’t make sense of a horse collar or a face mask. That’s 14 points to Derion Kendrick.
But there are other fans who say that Durant’s poor tackling skills are a far greater concern than Kendrick’s penalties or inconsistent coverage.
Okay, sure! Pick either one.
The Rams found a dude in Ahkello Witherspoon but neither 2022 day three pick has played like a true starter. Witherspoon would be an ideal CB2, the Rams know they don’t have a CB1, but it feels like they’re having to start a pair of CB4s. (Not you, Chris Rock.)
The play of Duke Shelley this week—not Tre Tomlinson—may signal that Raheem Morris and McVay must enter “ain’t got time for that mode” with one of these corners. They don’t need to trade or release, but it could be time to bench.
K Brett Maher
Realistically, the Rams are stuck where they’re stuck with Maher and it’s hard to imagine it will get any better with a replacement. You probably have already forgotten because Maher had no field goal attempts on Sunday, but he missed two in his most recent game with a kick. He also missed two in Week 1. Maher has attempted the second-most field goals in the NFL but his 75% accuracy is 25th. What will that look like over the course of a 17-game season?
Maybe it improves. Maybe it doesn’t.
Interestingly, Maher is one of only four kickers in the NFL who doesn’t also do kickoffs. The Rams have one of the strongest legs in the league with Ethan Evans. It just means that L.A.’s asking their kicker to do one less thing and yet he’s dangerously close to being a problem in close games. What happens when the Rams are down 23-21 and they need Maher to make a 55-yard field goal to win it? A lot of teams have a kicker who they’re comfortable with in that situation. Maher has the distance, but will he have the accuracy?
The EDGE situation
I remember all offseason saying that Michael Hoecht didn’t make sense as a 300 lb outside linebacker and was told that I didn’t know what I was talking about? Interesting.
The debut of Ochaun Mathis in Week 5 yielded 10 snaps. He now has six more snaps than fellow rookie Nick Hampton. Zach VanValkenburg has 49 snaps. Hoecht rarely comes off the field (less than 10% of the time) but he’s not suited for the position he’s playing or dropping into coverage like he’s being asked to do.
It’s strange that the Rams felt like this was the plan because it’s not as though there aren’t free agent edge players. It’s not that they’re necessarily good, or they wouldn’t be available, but at least they’re outside linebackers.
Hoecht’s probably going to be seeing his last days at the position, if not in his last season with the Rams. In that way, the Rams ain’t got time to keep playing with this experiment.
TE Brycen Hopkins
In the mold of giving up on your 2020 draft picks, what in the world is taking so long with Brycen Hopkins? It took over three seasons for the Rams to give up on Akers and Jefferson. Why is Hopkins going into Week 6?
Les, the draft was bad, okay? That’s fine! A lot of draft classes are bad, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad person! Just let it go. You’re almost 100% the way there.
Out of nine 2020 draft picks, the Rams have traded two (Akers, Jefferson), released four (Terrell Lewis, Terrell Burgess, Clay Johnston, Sam Sloman), and hang onto three (Hopkins, Jordan Fuller, Tremayne Anchrum). Fuller is the only starting and that feels tenuous. He probably won’t be re-signed.
Hopkins has been targeted one time in the last four games, catching a five-yard pass. I was told “Ah, he’ll breakout THIS time” but he is playing in fewer snaps per game than he did in 2022 and even fewer than he did in 2021. He’s played in 47 snaps, less than 10 per game.
The Rams used a fifth round pick on Davis Allen, they have Hunter Long on IR, are we just waiting until Long can be activated? At five or six snaps per game, what’s the big deal to give those to Allen at this point? I think that Hopkins is all but out, it’s just waiting for the inevitable for no clear reason.
Maybe just that Snead doesn’t have any more future sevenths to trade for future sixths.