Should the LA Rams give up on wide receiver Tutu Atwell?
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams roster has far too many examples of players who are not contributing today but who take up a roster spot with little to no development expected for the future. And that is beginning to choke the team in plenty of ways. One such example is that of wide receiver Tutu Atwell, a player who was as much of an enigma when the Rams drafted him as he is on the roster today.
Atwell has become the focal point of much of the Rams fans’ anger over the Rams roster oversight. Not insomuch as the Rams chose him, but rather who the LA Rams failed to select with the 57th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Rams had the chance to select offensive center Creed Humphrey or Quinn Meinerz, linebacker Pete Werner, or even edge rusher Patrick Jones II.
This is no 20/20 hindsight analysis, but rather an indictment of the Rams’ decision-making process during the 2021 NFL Draft. Keep in mind, the draft occurred after the Detroit Lions hired LA Rams Director of College Scouting Brad Holmes to become the team’s General Manager. Almost immediately after that hire, the Lions returned to the Rams executive staff to hire the LA Rams Director of Pro Personnel Ray Agnew as their Assistant General Manager.
How much of an impact on the 2021 NFL Draft did losing two key executives have on the Rams draft process?
Entering the 2021 NFL Draft, the Rams roster needed plenty of help, but perhaps the most glaring need was that of the offensive line.
OL needs continue to plague the Rams
The Rams lost starting offensive center Austin Blythe to free agency, and the roster was not screaming with an abundance of talented depth at the position. The team had just added veteran QB Matthew Stafford and signed free agent WR DeSean Jackson. The Rams drafted Atwell to give the offense a deep-threat WR, and add competition to special teams’ return specialists.
So how has that draft selection played out? Well, entering his second NFL season, he has been targetted four times. He has played 33 offensive snaps, and 27 special team snaps. But worst of all, he continues to be a healthy scratch.
Until now, the LA Rams roster was committed to carrying young players who have not yet realized their full potential. But that all ended when the team released promising defensive back Terrell Burgess, who was promptly signed to the New York Giants practice squad.
While you could make a logical argument that Burgess was never going to make an impact on the LA Rams defense as is, how much more of an impact with WR Tutu Atwell make? Let’s rephrase that question. If 5-foot-11 202-pound Terrell Burgess has little value to the Rams’ special teams, how much value do the Rams see in a 5-foot-9 155-pound wide receiver who is a healthy scratch?
Due to his draft spot, the LA Rams are paying Tutu Atwell over $1.3 million this season. That’s more than RB Darrell Henderson, DB Nick Scott, WR/PR/KR Brandon Powell, or even WR Ben Skowronek.
At some point, the Rams have to evaluate the entire Rams roster and commit to those players who contribute to the team’s overall success. When that happens, I would not be the least bit surprised if the team makes a decision to part ways with Atwell. I don’t want bad luck on any player who wears the Rams uniform, let alone a wide receiver who the Rams valued so highly.
But this Rams team is struggling almost everywhere on offense. If this situation continues, the team’s ability to carry future potential is less forgiving, and that could mean repurposing salary dollars from a receiver who might deliver someday to a player who does deliver now.