LA Rams make a curious move at OLB, but was it the right move?

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams, Keir Thomas
Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Rams, Keir Thomas / Katelyn Mulcahy/GettyImages

The way that the LA Rams prioritized who to keep and who to cut to set up the team's initial 53-man active roster was a bit puzzling. While the Rams pass rush did not exactly set a high bar through the 2023 preseason, the Rams opted to cut every player who recorded a quarterback sack in the preseason. We pointed that out in an article written at the time

"The following Rams players got to the quarterback: OLB Keir Thomas (2.5), OLB Daniel Hardy (0.5), DT Marquise Copeland (1.0), DB Tanner Ingle (1.0), and DB Quindell Johnson (1.0)"

Bret Stuter

Some of those players were eventually signed to the Rams practice squad, but the strategy remained an enigma. OLB Keir Thomas was a force to be reckoned with, a huge factor in a rather so-so pass rush who always seemed to be near the quarterback. Now, after 10 weeks of the 2023 NFL season has passed, the LA Rams are finally adding Keir Thomas to the roster.

One in, one goes. But why?

Sadly, to make room for him on the Rams roster, the Rams have opted to waive a seldom-used OLB Zach VanValkenburg.

For the record, VanValkenbug played 97 defensive snaps in 2023 so far and recorded 1.0 quarterback sacks and nine tackles. He stands 6-foot-4 and weighs 263 pounds, a huge force off the edge when he gets going. The move was mildly surprising. VanValkenburg was showing signs of improving, as well as the fact that he was under contract through the 2024 NFL season.

Even with the activation, the Rmas 53-man roster is just at 52 players. The extra roster slot is likely earmarked to activate NT Bobby Brown III this week, but that move has not happened yet. The Rams now have an open roster slot on the 16-man practice squad to fill as well.

Keir Thomas stands 6-foot-2 and weighs a robust 275 pounds. While he has yet to see action in 2023, he did appear in eight games in 2022 and recorded four tackles. He is still looking for the first NFL quarterback sack of his career.

I like the fact that Keir Thomas finally has a chance to compete for the LA Rams defense. But I felt that Zach VanValkenburg had shown enough promise to continue with the team through 2024 as well. I hope it all works out, as I am not certain that this was the right set of Rams roster moves for Week 11.

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