Unthinkable! LA Rams shock NFL, waive another veteran OLB as roster purge continues

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

If I told you that the LA Rams would openly waive RB Darrell Henderson Jr., DB Terrell Burgess, and TE Kendall Blanton mid-season, you would have been well within your rights to question my sobriety. If I then doubled down and suggested that the Rams would waive three outside linebackers, Chris Garrett, Justin Hollins, and now Terrell Lewis, all of whom were still playing on their rookie contracts, you would have been wise to question my sanity.

Another edge rusher went. . . Poof!

The LA Rams have either lost their patience or have come to the conclusion that their OLB profile has dramatically changed in the past two seasons. Or . . . both? Well, let’s get right to it:

How can the LA Rams waive another outside linebacker? Well, to be honest, the emergence of DL/OLB Michael Hoecht is certainly one reason. A guy who just learned the position over the course of the past three weeks is suddenly the runner-up performer at the position? But even that does not explain the willingness to shed necessary depth at the edge rusher position.

But the rise of rookie Keir Thomas can easily explain that:

The LA Rams have been purging this roster of players who the team had decided were no longer at a productive enough point to be considered to have a meaningful chance of returning next season.

DC Morris may have had enough . . .

What the hell, er, heck is going on with the LA Rams roster on defense right now? I suspect you can point the finger at DC Raheem Morris, who showed the same pattern when he was coaching for the Atlanta Falcons. He was the guy who cut DE/OLB Takk McKinley and forced OLB Dante Fowler to take a pay cut to avoid getting the same treatment. Morris’s production?

"“It hasn’t been good enough.” – Raheem Morris as per The Falcoholic.com’s Matthew Chambers"

So you can imagine the behind-doors conversations about the bevy of LA Rams outside linebackers who have been pathetically ineffective. How bad has it been?

In one game, newly cross-trained OLB Michael Hoecht matched the 22-game combined quarterback sack totals of both Justin Hollins and Terrell Lewis this season. And his 14 tackles in three games at outside linebacker are on track to dwarf Hollins/Lewis’ combined 39 tackles in 22 games.

The 2023 Draft class is loaded with talented OLBs

Okay, it’s easy to waive players. But what about replacing that production? Well, curiously, the LA Rams face a 2023 NFL Draft in which the OLB class is bursting at the seams. Yes, that’s right. In fact, of the Top 50 rookie prospects on the LA Rams Big Board, nine are outside linebackers, and they project all the way to priority free-agent signings after the draft.

The Rams roster may be restocking the shelves at edge rusher throughout the 2023 NFL Draft. But over the course of their next four games, the team will see how well their quartet of Leonard Floyd, Michael Hoecht, Keir Thomas, and Daniel Hardy perform, which will gauge how high of a priority the position will be.

Waiving Lewis now will cost the Rams a dead cap total of approximately $290K. That will also result in nearly $1.4 million in salary cap savings for 2023. Is it the right move? That’s tough to say. But clearly, the Rams have a direction that they want to take the defense, and three outside linebackers no longer stand in their way of getting there.

Unthinkable? A month ago, sure. But nothing is surprising me about the Rams right now.

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