Fish or cut bait is a saying that means either act or stop saying that you will act. There are other, more colorful phrases, with similar meanings, but for the LA Rams they all turn out to say the same thing. Either step up and deliver this season, or step away. And for the LA Rams, I'm not convinced that each player on this list has one more 'shot' left.
Whether it's a question of opportunity, durability, bad luck, or just bad timing, the Rams roster would be far more dangerous and respected if these players had delivered on their potential. Some have flashed that potential, giving indications in a smaller role or with a smaller sample size that they have what it takes to show up on a bigger stage, in a brighter spotlight, and deliver in a bigger role.
Others simply showed that potential in the past, whether in college, in Rams training camp, and they hope is that their current positional coaches can unlock whatever that potential may be. That is easier said than done this season, because the LA Rams offseason positional battles are incredibly fierce this season.
Did Rams fail to develop young players?
The problem in all of this is that the LA Rams ability to develop young talent seemed to wane over time. As the team continued to lose talented positional coaches and coordinators to other teams, who themselves took on larger roles, the coaches who arrived to take over for the Rams seemed to have different preferences, expectations, and demands. After the LA Rams lost former DC Brandon Staley to become head coach of the LA Chargers, they hired former Atlanta Falcons DC/Interim HC Raheem Morris.
Two years after his hiring, the LA Rams cleared the house of all pass rushers not initially signed by DC Raheem Morris. That would be it if not for a similar action under the Atlanta Falcons. In 2020, the Falcons reworked a lucrative contract with former LA Rams OLB Dante Fowler, cutting his salary due to a lack of production. Edge rushers need to produce for Morris, period.
But the LA Rams took that concept and ran with it in 2022. Veterans at multiple positions were released mid season, as the team had to cut financial ballast in order to remain afloat. By season's end, the Rams has less than $1 million of their available salary cap, driven by a payroll with so many highly compensated veterans on Injured reserve, while paying their replacements to compete on the football field.
This year, the Rams front office has tweaked the rules a bit. It's no longer about paying for the NFL's elite players. This year, it's about playing up to the level for which you are getting paid. And that has changed the landscape for quite a few players. Like who? I have found nine such players who could find themselves in a make-or-break year in 2023: