Back in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Rams used the 57th overall pick to select Van Jefferson out of the University of Florida. Jefferson, the son of former NFL receiver and current NFL receivers coach Shawn Jefferson, was a very polished prospect due to being raised by a father that played the position at the highest level.
Through three total seasons with the Rams, Jefferson has logged 93 receptions for 1,391 yards and 10 touchdowns. Most of those numbers came in his second season with the team, the year the Rams won the Super Bowl, as he tallied 50 receptions for 6 touchdowns after establishing himself as a downfield threat for the squad.
However, following a nagging knee injury that kept him out of a majority of training camp and the first six games of the season, Van Jefferson took a step back in production. Not only that, but he seemed to get outshined a little bit even after both Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson went down with injuries, as both Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek stepped up to the plate and proved they were capable of making noise at the position.
With that being said, Van Jefferson is now entering his final year of his rookie contract with the Rams, meaning he will be eligible to become an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2023-2024 NFL season. Unless Jefferson has some sort of ridiculous season next year, I cannot see a world where the Rams would re-sign him, allowing Jefferson to seek the best deal possible elsewhere.
But, should the Rams let Jefferson walk for a late-round compensatory pick? Or, should the Rams try to move Jefferson for, let’s say, a third round or even a fourth round selection prior to the 2023-2024 season? Maybe they can even get a player for Jefferson instead of a pick but, regardless, the Rams should find a way to move on from Jefferson, and here is why:
BENNY SKOW AND TUTU EMERGENCE
Let’s be honest, no one expected 2021 7th round pick Ben Skowronek to be anything more than a depth piece/special teamer. However, Skowronek was forced to step into some big games in his rookie year, showing that he is capable of being a serviceable player in this league. Then, in 2022, Skowronek became a starter when he filled in for Van Jefferson early in the year, posting 23 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown, stepping in nicely for an injured Jefferson.
Then, as the season progressed, Tutu Atwell finally got involved, averaging 78.2% of the offensive snaps in the final five games of last season. In those contests combined, Atwell had 12 receptions for 111 yards receiving along with a rushing touchdown, showing he’s fully capable of becoming an integral part of the L.A. offensive attack.
In my opinion, it makes sense for the Rams to at least explore moving on from Jefferson, especially considering the way Skowronek and Atwell stepped up last season. What do you folks think, should the Rams explore trading Van Jefferson?