The St. Louis Rams have gotten going on their cutdown to 53 players, and after yesterday’s release of 17 players and the impending suspension of wide receiver Stedman Bailey, they’ll have four more moves to make before they’re at the 53-man roster limit.
To briefly summarize, the team has already released quarterback Garrett Gilbert, wide receivers Austin Franklin, Emory Blake, and Justin Veltung, tight end Brad Smelley, offensive linemen Travis Bond, Mitchell Van Dyk, and Sean Hooey, defensive end Kourtnei Brown, defensive tackle Deantre Harlan, linebackers Phillip Steward, Aaron Hill, Ettiene Sabino, and Lawrence Wilson, safety Avery Cunningham, and cornerbacks Greg Reid and Darren Woodard.
One of their moves today could be to place offensive lineman Barrett Jones on injured/reserve, because he’s dealing with a back injury that will take him into the season, and realistically with the brevity of regular season practices there’s no way that he’s going to get up to speed and contribute this year after missing almost all of training camp. That would leave the Rams with three more cuts to go, and there are several ways that they could go.
They’re heavy at running back, with both Trey Watts and Chase Reynolds complementing the primary three of Zac Stacy, Benny Cunningham, and Tre Mason, but after Watts’ strong preseason and with Reynolds’ special teams ability, both of those guys are probably safe.
There needs to be a decision made at tight end. Both Alex Bayer and Justice Cunningham are still on the roster, and the team will likely only keep four. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch‘s Jim Thomas, Cunningham suffered a high ankle sprain in the final preseason game, which he believes means that Bayer will win the competition by default.
If they decide to keep Jones active, they could release offensive lineman Brandon Washington, which wouldn’t make that huge of a difference off the bat because the Rams have only dressed as many as eight linemen for games anyway, and either Jones or Washington would be the ninth. It would only become a slight issue in the event of an early-season injury, which would necessitate the acquisition of another backup if Jones wasn’t healthy yet.
On the defensive line, there’s the obvious Michael Sam angle. While his ability to make the 53-man roster has been doubted by many, there’s a perfectly reasonable path to the 53 now that doesn’t even require the Rams to cut veteran Alex Carrington to be able to accommodate Sam. However, defensive tackle Matt Conrath, who has been injured recently, probably will be a victim of the cut.
In the defensive backfield, Marcus Roberson is probably in due to Trumaine Johnson‘s injury. Safety Christian Bryant might have a chance thanks to his status as a drafted player and a solid performance in the final preseason game, but in all likelihood he probably gets released.
Even if some players end up sneaking onto the initial 53-man roster, there’s still the potential for the Rams to upgrade and bring in outside help. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner reported that the Rams at least have some form of interest in former Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks quarterback Terrelle Pryor. In addition, they could try to find some help on the offensive line or at linebacker, two positions that they are shorter than usual at right now.