5 Rams free agents who could be forced into retirement

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams
Super Bowl LVI - Los Angeles Rams / Michael Owens/GettyImages
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Thanks, but no thanks

When the team signed veteran running back Royce Freeman, I had hoped that his arrival would translate into a paradigm shift for the offensive strategy. In short, I wanted this to be 'the sign' that the team was willing to emphasize power running, a big bully running back used to crash into and through the line of scrimmage, average 20-25 carries per game, and wear down opposing defenses.

Guess what? It never happened.

Much like the north-south running of veteran RB Sony Mitchell in 2021, the team seems to harbor a love-hate relationship with bigger runners. Royce Freeman is 6-foot-0 and weighs 238 pounds. That is huge in comparison to 194-pound Ronnie Rivers or 195-pound Kyren Williams. And it's not as though Freeman is interchangeable with other runners. His north-south style of smash-mouth football is a perfect complement to the elusive fierce running of Williams.

Freeman only saw action in 207 offensive snaps. But when he was on the field, he worked. He ran 77 times for 319 yards and two touchdowns. That works out to 4.1 yards per carry, a very impressive number for a big back. Even the oft-stingy graders at Pro Football Focus gave Freeman a 74.3 grade for his work on the team. And yet, just like Sony Mitchel, the Rams are content to rent a power runner for a season, and then let them depart.

Sony Mitchell signed with the Los Angeles Chargers for one season after playing for the Rams before retiring. With a new wave of talented runners hitting the NFL from the 2024 NFL Draft, I'm not sure that Royce Freeman will get that chance.

Another SB hero who never panned out

The LA Rams drafted TE Brycen Hopkins with the 136th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. At the time, adding a rookie tight end to play behind veterans Gerald Everett and Tyler Higbee made a lot of sense. After all, Everett was on the last year of his contract, and the team seemed to have solid success by platooning two pass-catching tight ends.

Unfortunately, Brycen Hopkins never elevated his play to a point when he was given steady work in this offense.

After Everett left, the team turned to blocking TE Johhny Mundt. After Mundt left, the team turned to reserve TE Kendall Blanton. In 2023, the team turned to rookie TE Davis Allen. For whatever the reason, Hopkins simply cannot buy a vowel when it comes to playing time.

He did show up for the team in a big way in Super Bowl LVI, when the team lost WR Odell Beckham Jr. to an ACL injury, and the team was running out of targets for QB Matthew Stafford. In that game, he caught four of four passes thrown his was for 47 yards, moving the chains three times for the offense. But in terms of four seasons? He caught 13 of 19 passes for 196 yards and never scored a touchdown.

In hir four year career, he saw action on 330 offensive snaps and 155 snaps on special teams. That does not seem like the kind of numbers that will attract offers from other teams. Perhaps a team will take a chance at rejuvenating his career. But I believe it's more likely that he simply waits for an offer that won't be coming.