LA Rams new addition is not a primary need, but secondary

Troy Reeder Los Angeles Rams
Troy Reeder Los Angeles Rams / Ronald Martinez/GettyImages

Even after the LA Rams roster was set at the 1:00 pm PT deadline on August 29, 2023, the Rams front office has been working to prune and graft roster upgrades to ensure an optimal roster that is intended to endure over a long season as well as be prepared to maintain ample player rotation that can keep everyone on the Rams roster rested and healthy. Most of all, the Rams will have readily available substitutes who can take over in a situation where a Rams player falls ill or to injury.

So of the latest three additions from outside of the LA Rams organization, how many were pass rushers? If you guessed any number greater than 0, you are wrong. So who did the Rams sign? Well, the team needed to sign a kicker and did so. But the Rams signed veteran NFL kicker Brett Maher to the team's practice squad, a decision that invites unnecessary risk.

Okay, so who else did the Rams add?

Rams free agency signings: Er . . . what?

If you thought that the LA Rams might bolster a young and incredibly inexperienced pass rush, you are likely very disappointed. The Rams apparently intend on committing their fortunes to a cross-trained defensive tackle in Michael Hoecht, a late signing in 2022 in Zach VanValkenburg, and a pair of rookies in Byron Young and Nick Hampton. Of course, after four weeks, the Rams will need to decide how best to address injured rookie OLB Ochaun Mathis.

For now, the LA Rams wanted to bolster their secondary, and did so with the Rama free agency signing of veteran defensive back Duke Shelley. Shelley is a 5-foot-9 176-pound defensive back who is initially projected to back up star cornerback Cobie Durant:

Shelley had an outstanding grade from Pro Football Focus for 2022, earning a grade of 81.5 on 25 tackles, one interception, and allowing just 20 of 41 passes thrown at his receiver to result in a completion. He followed that up with solid marks in the 2023 preseason as well.

He was originally drafted by the Chicago Bears in the 2019 NFL Draft with the 205th overall pick. While primarily a special teams player in his rookie season, he has slowly grown his role on defense to become a solid rotational player. He will have the opportunity to expand that role in the LA Rams secondary this season.

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While not a perceived need, Shelley does give the Rams roster better depth in the secondary, and could prove to have a significant positive effect over the long haul this season. Still, it was a bit . . . unexpected, as seems to be the case with many decisions concerning the Rams roster so far this season.