When the LA Rams offered undrafted rookie wide receiver Lance McCutcheon an opportunity to put up impressive numbers in preseason games last season, the Rams receiver room was stuffed with veteran talent and shy of young players to develop.
There was Cooper Kupp and Van Jefferson, both of whom had career high seasons in 2021. Then there was presumed WR2 in newly acquired veteran Allen Robinson. There was tight end Tyler Higbee. And then, there was the rest of the pack.
In no particular order, the Rams had Ben Skowronek, Tutu Atwell. Jacob Harris, Branon Powell, and preseason sensation Lance McCutcheon. At the time, Atwell and Harris were unknowns, Skowronek was lightly used, and Powell was along for the ride thanks to his special team's success. So yes, it made sense for the LA Rams to keep a promising young talent
That was then, this is now
Fast forward a year, and the landscape over the Rams roster has changed dramatically. Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell have improved their position on the depth chart so dramatically that neither was forced to play for their roster survival in preseason games this season. Jacob Harris was cut feam in the middle of 2022. Allen Robinson was outright traded away.
In their wake, the Rams drafted newcomer Puka Nacua, and then signed free agents Demarcus Robinson and Tyler Johnson. With each new transaction, WR Lance McCutcheon fell further and further down the Rams depth chart.
Even undrafted rookie WR Xavier Smith held some extra versatility as he competed as a return specialist for the team in training camp.
It's not as though young Lance McCutcheon stopped making plays. He continued to make plays, even to the point of setting a Rams preseason receiving record. It's simply that the Rams stopped asking him to make plays. With so many new players on the roster, his turn in the rotation lengthened, and his status as a wunderkind stagnated.
McCutcheon may re-sign on the Rams practice squad, and I hope that he does. But much like 2020 undrafted wide receiver Trishton Jackson, who made the Rams 53-man roster as a rookie, but was surprisingly cut from the Rams roster in 2021. Rather than go back to competing for the Rams, he packed his bags and signed with the Minnesota Vikings practice squad, where he remains to this day.
Here today, gone the next. No wonder one of the nicknames for the NFL is Not For Long