LA Rams edge towards 53, picking up DE Rivers from Patriots waivers

Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports /

The LA Rams increase their roster to 52 by adding DE Rivers from the Patriots waivers wire

The LA Rams finally acted to restocking their active roster, now at 52, by signing a player from the New England Patriots waivers wire, defensive end Derek Rivers. The move is not surprising, as the team has been playing light on edge rushers all season, and we anticipated their interest in reinforcing the position with our recent list of NFL Free Agents that the team needs to try out as quickly as possible.

While we focused more on established veteran players in our expectations for filling the roster, it’s clear that the Rams intend to focus upon younger players at this point.

So who is Derek Rivers?

Rivers is semi-bust Patriots

Derek Rivers was a third-round draft prospect in the 2017 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing 250 pounds, he has plenty of size, power, and speed to fit the role of an NFL defensive end/outside linebacker. He was highly productive at Youngstown State, but that production never translated to the NFL. You can check out his draft profile video here.

In his four seasons in the NFL, he’s seen very limited action. In 2018, he saw only 78 defensive snaps, but he did record a sack, two quarterback hits, and two tackles. This year, he’s seen 86 snaps, recorded 1.5 sacks, four quarterback hits, and four tackles. His career in the NFL has been riddled with injuries. He tore his ACL in his rookie season and fell to injury again in 2019 after what appeared to be a very promising preseason.

Rivers was recently waived by the Patriots on November 21, 2020. That was a disappointing finish for a player who was actually the first rookie selected in the 2017 NFL Draft by the Patriots. After all, they traded a first-round pick for WR Brandin Cooks and a second-round pick to the Carolina Panthers for DL Konya Ealy.   At the time, Rivers receivers a lot of attention, being mocked consistently to worthwhile teams in round three.

Rams DC Staley knows edge players

There is literally zero chance that Rivers becomes anything close to an NFL starter in 2020. The Rams have signed him with six games remaining,  He has flashed promise, but not delivered the type of production expected from a third-round player. In short, he’s a low-risk, low-reward player for the team this year. But there is a wild card.

LA Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley knows outside linebackers. In fact, he likely still has a file on Rivers from 2017. And I have no doubt that he guided the hand of general manager Les Snead in the effort to sign him to a contract. After all, the Rams are projected to lose both Leonard Floyd and Samson Ebukam to free agency at the expiration of their current contracts. That means that the Rams have an even greater need for depth at the position now.

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But this is a smart move. Rivers has not had the type of NFL career that attracts interest from other players. In essence, the Rams are auditioning the young man for a contract offer for 2021. If he shows promise to the Rams, they can sign him with relatively little competition. If he doesn’t show promise, he will join the NFL Free Agency market with other veterans. Either way, the Rams will know much more about their edge positions and how to plan around it for the future.