LA Rams signing K Brett Maher to PS invites unnecessary risk

Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Brett Maher
Los Angeles Rams v Denver Broncos Brett Maher / Dustin Bradford/GettyImages

If the NFL was the hokey pokey, then the LA Rams would be well on their way to winning top honors. After all, no team has done more about signing a player, cutting that player, letting that player leave to test their value in the NFL Free Agency market, and then resigned that player. The Rams have done so with former DT Michael Brockers, RB Malcolm Brown, RB Sony Michel, DB Troy Hill (X2), and now even DB John Johnson III.

But the latest maneuver by the LA Rams to enter the 2023 NFL season without a kicker, and then tp sign a kicker, namely former Broncos kicker Brett Maher, only to then report that their place kicker is on the team's practice squad, is pretty . . . shall we say, risky?

But before we tackle the risks, let's go over the reasons that I've read why the Rams are outsmarting the rest of the NFL by taking this approach:

Benefit III: Won't take up a roster spot

By carrying the kicker on the practice squad, the Rams save a roster spot. So what? The Rams are likely trialing an experiment by using punter Ethan Evans as both punter and for kickoffs. But that doubles the risk of losing both the punter and the kicker if Evans is injured.

Benefit II: Can elevate PS player three times for games

Yes, the NFL's new rules now allow a player from the practice squad to be elevated to the active roster three times. But if that was a wise strategy, why not also carry all backup quarterbacks on the practice squad? There are risks to carrying a vital player on the practice squad, which we will get into in a moment.

Benefit I: Easier on the wallet

The cost for an NFL veteran player on minimum salary in 2023 is approximately $1 million. For comparison purposes, that works out to approximately $55,600 per week. For NFL veteran NFL players on the practice squad, that works out to $15,100 per week. Finally, for any week that a practice squad player is elevated, they get the NFL minimum salary equivalent. So for Brett Maher, he is likely looking at a minimum of $400,000 for this season, unless cut or signed to the Rams roster.

Risks of poaching practice squad players is very real

If you think that there is some form of gentleman's agreement among NFL teams that will prevent them from poaching players from other teams' practice squads, you have not been paying attention. As recently as December 2022, the Denver Broncos poached DT Elijah Garcia from the Rams PS. The Rams themselves found C Coleman Shelton on the Arizona Cardinals practice squad and signed OT Zachary Thomas off the Chicago Beas practice squad in November 2022.

If an NFL placekicker performs poorly for a team, the first place that team would look for a new placekicker is the practice squad of other NFL teams. And that means that teams will immediately shop for their next placekicker from the Rams practice squad roster.

While some positions in the NFL are simply not easily replaced, the kicker position can be swapped out almost as quickly as a tire in a NASCAR race by the pit crew. And they are often swapped out nearly as often.

Freeing up a roster spot for a player who won't see the field? Saving a couple bucks today, but perhaps costing the team a much larger stack of Benjamins if the Rams roster suddenly needs to sign a placekicker instantly?

Trending. Initial Rams roster and depth chart. A quick double-take on the initial LA Rams roster and likely depth chart. dark

Some decisions have consequences. I'm concerned that this LA Rams roster decisions will have serious and crippling consequences for the team going forward.