One of the items that never ceases to befuddle me is the fact that the LA Rams front office seems to add promising and talented NFL veterans who simply fail to pan out for the Rams on game day. The practice of adding veterans who are simply not used is not new, as it has been a practice for some time. But it truly seems to be exceptionally on display for the Rams running backs.
In 2021, the Rams added veteran RB Sony Michel for a steep price of a fourth-round and a sixth round pick to the New England Patriots. If not for a late decision to actually start Michel, the Rams would have absolutely wasted those picks. In 2022, the Rams reunited with veteran RB Malcolm Brown. Brown did absolutely nothing for the Rams, as he was never given the opportunity.
You might think that the Rams would learn, but the team continues the practice this season, signing veteran RB Myles Gaskin. Gaskin, in keeping with the Rams tradition, has yet to see an offensive snap.
But it's more than veterans who are getting the cold shoulder from the Rams in regards to opportunities to play. And that is incredibly foolish heading into Week 9.
Rams stockpile RBs ahead of Zach Evans
I don't see the Rams extending the likes of RB Darrell Henderson Jr. or RB Myles Gaskin at the end of the 2023 NFL season. Neither player has performed well enough to warrant a contract offer. Gaskin has not even taken the football field for the Rams offense yet. But rookie RB Zach Evans is here today and will be with the LA Rams for the next three seasons.
Let's be quite clear. The LA Rams are a young football team that needs to embrace their youth and give opportunities to rookies liberally this season. The LA Rams got a steal in the 2023 NFL Draft when the team was able to add a quite talented and promising running back out of Ole Miss, Zach Evans, with the 215th overall pick in the 2023 NFL Draft.
So far this season, the Rams have traded RB Cam Akers to the Minnesota Vikings with conditional draft swap that will likely result in no value for the Rams. The Rams have also lost both RB Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers to Injured Reserve. Under those circumstances, you might expect that the last RB on the roster, RB Zach Evans, would get the not.
If you drew that logical conclusion, you would have been wrong.
Zach Evans needs to run in Week 9
Instead, the Rams signed former RB Darrell Henderson Jr. to the practice squad and then to the active roster, signed RB Myles Gaskin to the active roster off the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, and elevated veteran RB Royce Freeman from the practice squad.
There is almost no chance that Myles Gaskin will survive on the Rams roster if and when RB Kyren Williams is ready to return to the active roster. And while some Rams fans are thrilled at the return of Darrell Henderson Jr., I don't see him playing for the Rams in 2024.
So the Rams have restricted the growth of rookie RB Zach Evans severely, despite the opportunity to afford him real gametime experience. Could the option to play Evans in Week 8 have ended any worse than the drubbing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys? Before we proceed, let's be quite clear. The LA Rams committed to resetting the roster in 2023, with the plan to be postseason competitive in 2024 and beyond.
Nobody expected WR Puka Nacua to be a record setting rookie in 2023. He simply was given the chance to play and made the most of it. It's time to afford the same opportunity to rookie running back Zach Evans in Week 9. Even if he does not explode for 100+ yards this week, the Rams coaching staff will know where they need to coach him up for 2024.
And he just may surprise everyone. So why not?