Since the L.A. Rams drafted wide receiver Tutu Atwell in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, his role on the team has been a mystery. For the last two offseasons, fans and the media have questioned whether the Louisville product would FINALLY break out. In a way, he sort of did this season, yet it still might not be enough to secure his Rams future long-term.
During the regular season, Atwell set career-highs in targets (67), receptions (39), receiving yards (483), receiving touchdowns (3) and catch percentage (58.2) in 16 appearances. Those numbers felt like a letdown given the way Tutu began the year.
Rams WR Tutu Atwell through the first two seasons of his career:— SleeperNFL (@SleeperNFL) September 21, 2023
35 targets, 18 REC, 298 yards
Tutu Atwell through first two weeks:
Week 1: 8 targets, 6 REC, 119 yards
Week 2: 9 targets, 7 REC, 77 yards
Has Tutu finally been unleashed? pic.twitter.com/UTTmu4AQhL
To bluntly answer that question, no, Tutu Atwell was definitely not unleashed. That two-week span was simply a tease as Atwell had just 26 receptions for 287 yards on 50 targets the rest of the way. Once Cooper Kupp returned to the lineup in Week 5, Atwell’s role and targets took a significant hit.
After that, Tutu had only one game over 40 yards receiving which came in the 37-14 blowout win over the Cardinals. Atwell caught all three of his targets for 76 yards. Aside from the 38-yard score in the Wild Card Round, that was the closest the third-year pass catcher got to 40 yards receiving after Week 5.
This past season was probably the last best chance Atwell had at breaking out in the NFL, or at least proving he could be a viable contributor somewhere. The circumstances aligned perfectly and he failed to take advantage.
Heading into the regular season, Kupp was on IR, Puka Nacua was nothing more than a hype machine and Van Jefferson tricked some Rams fans into believing in him. There were so many question marks at the position which have mostly been answered now.
Initially, Tutu appeared to have figured it out, only to crash into another wave of disappointment. Fair or not, that has been the story of Atwell’s career.
Too many flashes and not enough following through on his vast potential.
Sean McVay blundered in not giving Tutu enough chances in the midst of the injury-riddled shiitake show that was the 2022 campaign. This time around, it was more of the same once Kupp returned. So what kind of future does Atwell have in LA? Or does he have one at all?
I have a feeling he will meet the same fate as Jefferson and eventually be traded for a late-round draft pick. While I believe Atwell is talented, it was too cutesy of a pick for LA at the time and the team got little return out of its investment.
Again, not everything has been the wideout’s fault. However, a change in scenery would be in the best interest for both parties. Neither side can continue this endless charade expecting things are going to be any different in 2024.