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Rams begin to build out 2024 roster

14 returnees are signed to Reserve/Future contracts

NFL: AUG 19 Preseason - Raiders at Rams
Edge Zach VanValkenburg is one of 14 Rams Reserve/Future signees
Photo by Tony Ding/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It didn’t take the Los Angeles Rams long after being eliminated from the playoffs to get right back on track for next season. On Monday and Tuesday, the Rams announced the signing of 14 players to Reserve/Future contracts, bringing the total number of players under contract to 50.

Reserve/Futures contracts are for any player not on an active roster at the end of the regular season. They allow teams to lock players onto the roster without surpassing current year salary cap and 53-man roster limitations. Since the accords don’t become official until the new league year starts with its 90-man roster and new salary cap, the contracts are fairly low in risk.

I think that you can safely assume these contracts are for younger and bottom of the roster developmental prospects. The players are generally paid league minimums in accordance with their accumulated seasons of experience, although some players who have other suitors may get a small premium.

Here are the Rams 14 Reserve/Future signees.

Quarterback Dresser Winn

Undrafted free agent (UDFA) was in 2023 camp. Relased and re-signed to the Rams practice squad a couple of times. Small-school pocket passer with NFL arm talent.

Edge Zach VanValkenburg

Signed and released originally by Las Vegas Raiders as UDFA in 2022, picked up by the Rams and signed to practice squad (PS). Signed a ’23 Reserve/Future contract after the season, survived camp, and made the opening 53. Saw action in nine games with 97 defensive snaps and another 56 on ST. Size/strength player with powerful handwork and motor to match.

Guard Zach Thomas

Round 6 pick by Chicago Bears in 2022, L.A. poached him from ChiBears PS in November. Made Rams opening ’23 roster and released to PS in November. Most fans remember him stepping in a left tackle in the Cincinnati Bengal game and the ass-whooping he took from Trey Hendricksen. But he actually has some upside at guard with his athleticism and feet.

CB Cameron McCutcheon

UDFA out of Western Carolina, spent ’23 season on L.A. PS until being released in November and re-signed a week later. Long, lanky outside corner is a plus athlete and had stellar small-school production.

Center Mike McAllister

2023 UDFA out of Youngstown State. Spent the year on the L.A. practice squad. 28 game starter in college that has center/guard versatility.

Safety Tanner Ingle

Overachiever who lacks size and speed, but plays like his hair is on fire. Spent 2023 on the Rams PS after signing as a UDFA out of North Carolina State.

Off-ball linebacker Olakunle Fatukasi

Since signing as a UDFA in 2022, He’s bounced through four teams, the Tampa Buccaneers, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, and Kansas City Chiefs before landing on the Rams PS last October. Hot motor and football IQ are his top traits. As a pro, he’s tallied 162 ST reps over 14 games, one with L.A.

Defensive tackle Cory Durden

Fits the Rams defensive line mold with good, strong hand-fighting skills. Came to L.A. from the Detroit Lions in September 2023 after signing as a UDFA out of Florida State. Saw action in four L.A. games, 44 snaps on the defensive front and 19 on ST.

Guard/tackle Logan Bruss

Drafted at #104 of Round 3 by the Rams in 2022. Tore up knee as a rookie and missed the entire season. Battled an ankle sprain in ’23 camp and was placed on PS. Good feet, technique, and guard/tackle versatility gives him a chance to come all the way back.

Tackle A.J. Arcuri

Round 7 pick by the Rams in 2022 out of Michigan State. Standing 6’ 7” at well over 300 lbs., with huge hands and long arms, he looks the part of NFL player. But as a rookie saw only 70 reps when Rams offensive line collapsed under injuries and spent all of 2023 on the PS.

WR Xavier Smith

Add return man to the 4.38 speedster’s resume. The diminutive, undrafted rookie out of Florida A & M didn’t see the active roster in 2023, but as a college senior was the HBCU Legacy Bowl offensive MVP and reportedly met with 21 NFL teams afterwards.

Guard Grant Miller

Son of GSOT-Rams tackle Fred Miller. He came to L.A. as a 2023 UDFA guard out of Baylor, but played center in his first two collegiate seasons at Vanderbilt.

Tight end Nikola Kalinic

Drafted by the Hamilton Tiger Cats of the Canadian Football League in 2019. Played in two Grey Cup’s, the CFL’s Championship game. Snuck across the border to the Indianapolis Colts in 2022 and played in seven games with two starts. Hw was in on 47 offensive snaps and 42 on ST. Picked up by the Rams a year later, he spent the season on the PS.

Tight end Miller Forristall

Signed out of Alabama as a UDFA in 2021. Road-tripped through Tennessee, Cleveland (twice), and New Orleans before landing on the L.A. PS. Over his three years, he’s had 27 offensive snaps and 61 on ST with no stats recorded.

2024 opening roster possibilities?

Most you can dismiss right out of hand, these Reserve/Future contract players are normally prohibitive long shots. But there are a few possibilities.

Xavier Smith might compete for a KR/WR#6 role. He was a big small-school playmaker both receiving an on returns. He is wicked fast and it might kid of fun to have a package where he and Tutu Atwell are on the field together. Incumbent returner Austin Trammel is an exclusive rights free agent, so the Rams can bring him back at a low cost. But Trammel was unexciting, at best, in 2023. Maybe he was on a short leash with all the other ST problems.

Both Logan Bruss and Zach Thomas may have let the horse out of the barn. Do I think both have the talent/traits to be developed? Yes, I’ve said so before and still believe it. But the kicker is that they really struggled when given a real chance to move up the depth chart. That may be too much to overcome.

With Mike McAllister, it depends on what the Rams do with Coleman Shelton. The Rams starting pivot has a provision in his contract that if he plays 55% of snaps in 2023, he becomes an unrestricted free agent. And he went well above that. Depending on how negotiations transpire or whether or not outside players are brought in, McAllister could end up battling veteran Brian Allen for the #1 job.

The drama around the 2024 Rams roster may start early and come on like a hurricane. The pilot has turned on the “fasten seatbelts” sign because of turbulence and it could turn into a white-knuckler.