LA Rams deficiency at tight end?

Reese Evans
Jan 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (left) and Los Angeles Chargers tight end Gerald Everett pose with jerseys after theg ame at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 1, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee (left) and Los Angeles Chargers tight end Gerald Everett pose with jerseys after theg ame at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

Skill positions have been LA Rams head coach Sean McVay’s specialty since he arrived. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp has blossomed from a third-round pick to one of the best wideouts in all of football. Consistent production from the tight end position has been lacking in McVay’s offense for the larger portion of his time in Los Angeles.

Outside of 2019, Tyler Higbee has been inconsistent at best and recent draft picks by LA Rams GM Les Snead in efforts to reinforce the tight end position have not worked out. What gives at tight end for the LA Rams and what are the solutions?

Let’s dive into it.

Inconsistency of Tyler Higbee

During the Rams 2019 season, tight end Tyler Higbee was an integral part of the offense hauling in 69 of his 89 targets for 734 yards and three touchdowns, view his career stats here. But that offensive burst is a bit deceptive. Most of his yardage came in December 2019 when he put up 522 yards.

He provided quarterback Jared Goff a security blanket in an offense where the team struggled to put up points and find victories. Both receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods amassed 1,000 yards each in that season. 2019 was Higbee’s age-26 season, was that the peak of his career?

While his 2022 stats are not bad on paper, I believe they are slightly misleading. In all but five games, Higbee recorded five or fewer receptions. His yards per catch rate was at a career-low as a starter, at 8.6 yards, despite a career-high in targets at 108. His three touchdowns on the season were all thrown by quarterback Baker Mayfield in meaningless games.

In Higbee’s defense, he established a solid rapport with quarterback Matthew Stafford at the beginning of the season. As the season progressed that connection worsened, in weeks six through nine of the NFL season Higbee posted just three receptions for 22 yards.

What should the Rams do with Higbee? If the tight end is not open to restructuring the 4-year, $29 million deal including the $15 million guaranteed he signed in 2019, he could be a cap casualty this offseason. The Rams are in need of salary flexibility, even with a league-wide cap raised to $225 million last week they are still above that limit.

Missed Draft Picks

The Rams have taken a fair shot on tight ends through the NFL draft with little success to show for it. In the 2021 draft, Los Angeles selected a project tight end in the fourth round, Jacob Harris from UCF who has since changed positions to wide receiver. In 2020, tight end Brycen Hopkins was the Rams’ fourth-round pick and showed flashes of talent by catching four of four in the Super Bowl LVI victory. He only collected seven receptions on 11 targets in 2022.

Although these draft picks have not panned out for Los Angeles, I don’t believe this will refrain Les Snead from taking a shot on another tight-end prospect in the 2023 draft. Some prospects that would be a good fit for the Rams include:

Tight end Darnell Washington from Georgia
Tight end Dalton Kincaid from Utah
Tight end Cameron Latu from Alabama.

You can check out these and more prospects on the Rams 2023 NFL Draft big board here.

Free Agent Departures

In 2019, Los Angeles made their choice at tight end, securing Tyler Higbee to a contract extension before his rookie deal expired. This move left tight ends Gerald Everett, a 2017 second-round draft pick, and Johnny Mundt, a free agent signing in 2017, on the short end of the stick. Everett left one locker room at SoFi stadium for another, signing a 2-year $12 million deal with the Chargers before the 2022 season. Johnny Mundt signed with the Minnesota Vikings following the 2021 season.

Are these departures more important than some people think? I believe so. Not only did the Rams have a strong tight end room with Higbee, Everett, and Mundt, they had a group of players who knew their roles. Higbee and Everett were more vertical threats while Mundt did the dirty work blocking in the trenches. Higbee is not the most skilled blocker and it affects the run game. Tight ends are integral to the blocking scheme of running the ball and the Rams’ group of tight ends did not get the job done in 2022.

Solutions to the problem at Tight End

I believe there are two solid options to solve the tight-end deficiency for the LA Rams. One is simply to restructure Tyler Higbee’s contract so the Rams have more salary cap room to possibly sign a complement tight end. One 2023 free agent tight end, Austin Hooper, would be an exceptional fit for Los Angeles. Hooper, 28 years of age, is known for his ability to block and is a known red-zone threat.

TE Jordan Akins, another projected 2023 free agent, would also be a good fit on the Rams roster. The 31-year-old produced solid numbers for the Texans last year, whose offense was average at best. Akins is a big body at 6-foot-4, 243 pounds, and would take up space in the trenches for the Rams.

If Higbee is unwilling to restructure his contract I believe he could be cut altogether. According to, Higbee carries a $9.12 cap hit to the Rams in 2023. That money could be well spent on previously mentioned tight ends or other positions in need.

The second option is to draft another tight end in the 2023 NFL Draft. In a previously written article, I dove into some options at tight end in this year’s draft. Those options include Darnell Washington from Georgia and Cameron Latu from Alabama. Both would be great fits in the Rams’ offense. Another viable option for Los Angeles is Dalton Kincaid from Utah, a 6-foot-4 240-pound tight end who is a vertical threat and solid blocker.

GM Les Snead and HC Sean McVay must find a solution to their tight-end enigma. In the best offensive years, the Rams have enjoyed a solid tight end room. I anticipate the Rams making moves this offseason at tight end, and expect some of these options to be part of those moves.

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