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Bryce Perkins’ free agent availability proves Rams wasted roster spot for years

LA talked themselves into Perkins’ value and feared he’d get poached by another team

Los Angeles Rams v Kansas City Chiefs Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

Roster spots were at a premium last season for the Los Angeles Rams, especially considering the windfall of injuries along the offensive line and elsewhere. The Rams started four different quarterbacks last year due to both injury and performance factors. At times their depth at secondary, receiver, running back, and defensive line were incredibly thin, and the offensive line was essentially a revolving door between the hobbled and street free agents.

So while Les Snead and Sean McVay were forced to reach deep into their personnel bags in order to fill out their game day actives, there were some roster spots where Los Angeles did not see much use from.

The first that comes to mind is the slot they saved for third-string quarterback Bryce Perkins, who showed flashes as a runner during the last two preseasons. The Rams feared that another team would poach Perkins off their practice squad so they spent the better part of two years stashing him on the 53-man roster.

But Perkins hit unrestricted free agency last month and he still remains unsigned. Ultimately this proves the Rams’ fears they’d lose him from the practice squad were unfounded. Any team in the NFL could sign the quarterback today if they truly wished—and likely at at a bargain rate.

Compounded with the fact they probably didn’t need to use an active roster spot to keep him is the issue of how the team utilized Perkins when he did end up on the field. With Matthew Stafford shut down for the season and John Wolford dealing with a lingering neck injury (and just not playing up to the standard you’d expect in the NFL), McVay anointed Perkins as the starter in Week 12 versus the Kansas City Chiefs. Instead of building an offensive game plan centered around Perkins’ unique running ability and deploying designed QB runs, the Rams seemed to run their normal offense and asked Perkins to win as a traditional passer. LA also started rookie seventh round draft pick AJ Arcuri at left tackle against the Chiefs with Ty Nsekhe out with injury, so it would have been a good opportunity to run the ball in high volumes and move the QB outside of the pocket.

The results in that game were dreadful—Perkins finished 13-23 for 100 yards, one TD, and two interceptions. He also ran nine times for 44 yards.

Wouldn’t you expect a team to have a well developed plan for a unique player like Perkins if they’ve spent the last two years protecting him and grooming him on the backend of the roster? How was there no package of plays specifically designed to make the most of Perkins’ dynamic ability as a runner?

The game against the Chiefs was a catastrophic coaching failure for the Rams, and Perkins remaining available as a free agent proves their concerns over him getting poached off the practice squad were likely unfounded. It was a disappointing situation all around for Sean McVay and the Rams.