Cutdown day is one of the toughest of the year, forcing teams to trim their roster down to only 53 players before the regular season begins. With most teams’ rosters standing at 80 players, there will be more than 860 players left without a job after Tuesday’s deadline.
The Rams have a bunch of difficult decisions to make as they whittle their roster down, specifically at wide receiver, safety and along the offensive line. With less than 24 hours until the deadline, here are the Rams’ six biggest questions.
How many QBs will they keep?
The Rams have a big decision to make at quarterback, one that will impact other positions. They could keep all three of their quarterbacks currently on the roster: Matthew Stafford, John Wolford and Bryce Perkins. Stafford is obviously a lock, but Wolford and Perkins can’t be considered as such.
It seems likely that the Rams will keep three quarterbacks again, just as they did last year. But that will also prevent them from keeping an extra player at another position, knowing neither Wolford or Perkins is expected to play at all this season.
Will WR depth hurt other positions?
The Rams have a good problem at wide receiver: They have too many talented players. We know Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell are all going to make it. The same goes for Brandon Powell, who will be the return specialist.
Jacob Harris figures to make the team, too, as the seventh receiver and an emergency tight end. Then there’s Lance McCutcheon, who has a great chance to be the eighth receiver. Eight wideouts is a lot, even for Sean McVay. But if the Rams cut McCutcheon or Harris, there’s almost no chance they’ll slip through waivers.
Keeping eight receivers could prevent the Rams from rostering six edge rushers, or five safeties, or nine offensive line. But, that’s what they might have to do, given the talent they’ve got at wide receiver.
Who starts the year with an injury designation?
One way to help cut down the roster to 53 players is using injury designations for players who may not be ready to suit up yet. The Rams can use the reserve/PUP list, which will sideline a player for the first four games of the season. They can also use the NFI list, which also sidelines a player for at least four games if the injury occurred outside team activities – like Travin Howard’s.
If the Rams want to put a player on injured reserve and designate him to return at some point, he’ll first half to make the 53-man roster. If they put a player on IR before the roster is set, that player will be out for the year; this could be used with Logan Bruss.
Quentin Lake has been on the PUP list all summer, so he could be a candidate to start the year there. Daniel Hardy is also expected to have an injury designation. These are decisions the Rams will have to make, and it comes down to the player’s health.
Any undrafted rookies going to make it?
Most, if not all of the Rams’ draft picks are expected to make the team this year. They could also keep a couple of undrafted rookies. Jake Hummel is one candidate, as is McCutcheon. Keir Thomas has made a strong case for the 53-man roster, as has Benton Whitley and even Dan Isom.
How many undrafted free agents will the Rams keep? I would say no more than two, with McCutcheon being one of them. There just isn’t a ton of room on this roster for players who likely won’t contribute soon.
Are eight offensive linemen enough?
In my latest roster projection, I have the Rams keeping eight linemen. Aside from the five starters, the other three players are Tremayne Anchrum Jr., A.J. Jackson and A.J. Arcuri. That leaves Bobby Evans and Chandler Brewer on the outside looking in, which may not be how the Rams view things.
Would eight linemen be enough to start the year, giving them only three backups? Keeping only two quarterbacks would make a nine-man O-line easier to swallow, but the Rams seem to like both Wolford and Perkins.
Bruss’ injury hurts the offensive line depth, but I think the team can get by with only eight guys up front to start the year.
Can they get away with only keeping 2 TEs?
Kendall Blanton was a shocking cut during the second wave, leaving Tyler Higbee and Brycen Hopkins as the only two tight ends with NFL experience. It’s possible they’ll keep either Roger Carter Jr. or Jared Pinkney, but McVay has talked about the evolution of the position, and having bigger players such as Harris and McCutcheon helps the depth at that position.
It’s not often a team only has two tight ends on the 53-man roster, but the Rams are in a spot to do exactly that. The practice squad should have at least one tight end on it, which helps, but even given the current situation, the Rams will be fine if they only have two tight ends on the final roster.