Like it or not, this player may not be gone before the 2023 NFL season starts
By Bret Stuter
With 45 players on the LA Rams roster, compared to the NFL average of 65 players signed to the 2023 NFL season, you might think that the Rams waiving of players would be over. After all, the Rams have a lot of ground to cover now, and a roster that is not even to the minimum threshold of meeting the Top-51 NFL salary cap cutoff.
The LA Rams have come to grips with the fact that their team was not aligned with whatever NFL Playoffs/Championship window that was once open to them. And so, the team has undertaken the Herculean task of uprooting some of the key contributors from the 2022 NFL season, and taking an approach that clearly resembles reseeding this roster with new rookies to grow and develop.
The LA Rams are truly caught between a rock and a hard place right now. While the roster is near to the breaking point of the shallowness of depth before the 2023 NFL Draft, there is not enough cap space for this team to maneuver effectively in the 2023 NFL season. Sure, there may be enough money on the books to handle the known expenses, and perhaps even ratchet this roster up to 90 without spilling over the top of cap space as long as the team sticks to minimally compensated players.
Are Rams walking back commitment to part ways with Robinson?
But if you go back and check out the rhetoric of LA Rams COO Kevin Demoff, the projection for salary cap space in 2024 was pretty specific, and it was set at over $60 million. I'm not convinced that the team achieves that mark if they still have veteran WR Allen Robinson on the roster. But the LA Rams, ever the opportunistic team, may already be walking back the effort to deal away Allen Robinson. In fact, the latest rhetoric from LA Rams HC Sean McVay suggests that the team has already accepted the fact that Allen Robinson will be on the roster, and that the offensive strategy surrounding how the team uses him in the offense must change:
McVay appears to realize that Allen Robinson was not the problem in 2022. And if that is the case, then the Rams would be well served to bring him back for another go, rather than draft a new wide receiver and hope for a short-duration learning curve and instant success.
The LA Rams offense is not only driven by meritocracy, but by seniority. Even if the LA Rams drafted a stunningly talented wide receiver with the 36th overall pick, how likely is that player to earn significant playing time behind wide receivers Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson, Ben Skowronek, and Tutu Atwell?
Can a Rams head coach change his horns?
I'm all for adding weapons to an offense that struggled in 2022. Where I draw the line is the simple fact that rookies struggle to earn playing time in the LA Rams offense. So if the Rams want to destroy their limited offensive production from 2022, then the goal should be to upgrade the blocking (better durability, better talent, more cohesive starting five), and from that point take the players on the roster and optimize their usage.
There are three factors that contribute to a player's performance. Either that player is not given an opportunity to play, that player is not schemed to be a contributor when he does play, or that player falls short of optimizing his opportunities. In the case of Allen Robinson, the deficiency was in the way the team schemed to use him in the offense.
We know that the offseason is full of clarity, commitment, and the verbiage to suggest that the LA Rams have learned the error of their ways. Just one year ago, the Rams were saying the right things about getting TE/WR Jacob Harris and WR Tutu Atwell more involved in the offense. But it was not until starters fell to injury that the team made good on that promise and involved Tutu Atwell in the offense. It was not until that point in time that fans began to realize that Atwell can play in the NFL.
That can be true of Allen Robinson in 2023. The LA Rams paid him to play. Why not play him to earn that pay? Right now, Allen Robinson is a clear WR2 for the LA Rams offense. If he is gone, not only is there not an obvious WR2 on this offense, but any rookie who joins the team is not even a certainty to contribute in this offense.
Like it or not, wide receiver Allen Robinson may not be gone before the 2023 NFL season starts. I, for one, would be thrilled if that were the case. The LA Rams have plenty of roster holes to fill right now. Instead of creating another roster vacancy, why not exert a little effort at improving the production of the players who are still with the team? Just a radical thought . . .