Things were quiet at the trade deadline for the Los Angles Rams, but just one week later, the roster moves are back with a vengeance and the big move was acquiring free agent quarterback Carson Wentz. The cause and effect of putting that deal together shook up both the active and practice squad rosters with a flurry of accompanying moves.
Although the Rams were definitely in need of a better backup, the Wentz addition asks as many questions as it answers.
Is Matthew Stafford’s injury worse than the Rams are letting on? Will it be a competition at QB? What are long term ramifications, if any? Is there a rift between Sean McVay and staff? There’s a myriad of possible scenarios, limited only by fans imagination.
Currently L.A. has 51 of 53 (including Wentz) active roster spots filled and 15 of 16 practice squad roles taken. The Rams have one player designated for return from the Injured Reserve List and over the next few weeks will have as many as four players ready for the return designation.
How much could the roster continue to change?
Newest additions to the active roster
QB Carson Wentz
Ironically, Wentz and the Rams have previously crossed paths twice before with major implications, Back in 2016 it was the “Goff or Wentz” debate as to who would go as the Number 1 draft pick. The Rams paid a small fortune to get that top pick and selected Goff, Wentz had to “settle” for being the second player taken.
18 months later, with both teams playoffs bound, L.A. traveled to Philly. Late in the third quarter, Wentz dropped back to pass from inside the Rams five, with good coverage, he broke the pocket towards the end zone. Mark Barron came flying in and hit the big QB hard low, while Morgan Fox flew in high. Wentz’ leg whipped hard against Fox and tore the ACL in his knee. Wentz was out for the rest of the season and the Eagles went on to win the Super Bowl.
At his best, the seven-year vet can carry a team with his arm, extend plays with his athleticism, and/or break the pocket and run. On the negative side, his big arm can be a scatter gun an he tries to force the ball at times. He’s a career 63% passer averaging about 3100 yards passing per season, with the potential to add another 200 rushing.
RB Darrell Henderson
Signed as a street free agent to the practice squad on 10/17 and used as the team’s weekly standard PS elevation for two weeks before signing with the active roster on 11/1. Hendo has played in the past three games, gaining 111 yards rushing on 40 carries, catching six of seven targets for 75 yards, and scoring one touchdown.
Bringing Henderson aboard when the Rams RB room had injury struggles was a no-brainer. Although his professional output never lived up to his playmaking college days, he’s a well-rounded back, who’s a north/south runner, can catch the ball on check downs or down field, is a willing, solid pass blocker and shows stellar ball security.
He appears to lack the vision and flexibility to be a strong multiple points of entry back, he’s more of a one cut and go runner. He doesn’t shy away from contact and while his size holds him back from being a power guy and breaking a lot of inside tackles, he runs low and can bowl over smaller defenders in the open field. With running backs Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers expected back off IR soon, Hendo may eventually wind up as the odd man out.
Make room for the IR returnees
RB Kyren Williams
Went on the IR on 10/21 and four weeks makes him eligible to be designated for return on 11/18 and it’s been reported that Sean McVay expects him to be ready for the Week 12 game versus the Arizona Cardinals.
TE Hunter Long
Was designated for return from IR on 10/25. The Rams have 21 days to put him on the active roster, placed on season-ending IR, or released. Where will he find play time? Special teams? Starter Tyler Higbee is playing 92% of snaps, if Long is TE4 there’s not much meat left on that bone.
RB Ronnie Rivers
A grade three PCL sprain is listed as a five to seven week recovery time. Rivers went on the IR on 10/18, making his return possible in early December. Knees can be tricky, if Royce Freeman and Darrell Henderson are still holding things down and Kyren Williams is back at full strength, Rivers might a candidate for season-ending IR.
DT Bobby Brown
Although the Rams smallish defensive interior has held up pretty well in his absence, Brown’s mass and fresh legs could benefit the front line. The five to seven week timeline for return from a sprained MCL would make him eligible to get back on the field in late November.
Safety Jason Taylor
There wasn’t much reported on Taylor’s injury other than it was a groin ailment. Since the injury was in Week 1 (9/15), he is eligible for designation to return when, or maybe it’s if, the Rams medical staff clears him.
11/7 DT Cory Durden
Added to the PS back on 9/19 and signed to the active roster 10/19 as the big-bodied replacement for Bobby Brown’s trip to IR. In his four weeks in L.A., he logged 44 defensive snaps and another 19 on ST and was credited with three tackles.
11/7 RB Myles Gaskin
Only saw six special teams snaps after being poached off the Minnesota Vikings PS on 10/18. Not a lot of work for three weeks pay at the league minimum.
11/7 QB Brett Rypien
One poor showing put Rypien on the chopping block. LOL. It will be interesting to see if he’s signed to the PS after clearing waivers, or if the Rams just jettison him.
11/7 QB Dresser Winn
Signed to the PS as the emergency backup after the Matthew Stafford injury. He was probably the best pick for a week’s worth of work. Was in camp with L.A., knew the basics of the Rams system, and could be easily let go if/when an upgrade became available.
There may be more moves in the offing. The Rams have a lot of late round picks and undrafted free agents on the roster and positional toe holds can be tenuous when things aren’t going well. After three straight losses, these Rams practices over the next two weeks may well be spirited affairs.