The NFL’s new roster requirements in the COVID-19 era have made it hard to keep the desired number of backup players for 2020. With those league-wide team reductions, the Los Angeles Rams released four players from the roster: wide receiver Greg Dortch, safety Jake Gervase, center Nate Trewyn and tight end Ethan Wolf. This trims the roster to 85.
A recent agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players’ Association (NFLPA) allowed the league to cancel the preseason. With that, each team must also cut its roster to 80 players before August 16. The Rams have already begun the process. Losing Dortch, Gervase, Trewyn and Wolf will not hurt the Rams too bad, but those players did have potential.
Unfortunately, the way the 2020 offseason unfolded did not give players a chance to prove themselves. This means that the Rams front office had to make tough decisions and still do. This year, the Rams picked up several talented rookies also. These new acquisitions have given them good depth behind the center, safety and receiver positions.
Gervase was the only one to see any snaps with the Rams. The Iowa alum played a little on special teams and one defensive snap against the Atlanta Falcons in 2019. He also played some special teams and defensive snaps against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13. Gervase may have been cut due to the already deep safety corps featuring second-year player Nick Scott and two talented rookies in Terrell Burgess and Jordan Fuller. Scott is a solid backup to Taylor Rapp and John Johnson, III. He has also proven himself on special teams and had a nice trick play against the Falcons. Rookie JuJu Hughes will also give some serious competition to the other competing players.
Dortch signed with the Carolina Panthers for a short time and returned kicks and punts in two games. The former Wake Forest star punt returner and wideout was then signed to the Rams in December but did not see the field. With the recent acquisition of rookie Van Jefferson, Dortch’s chances of seeing the field as a receiver were slim to none. He would also be competing with Nsimba Webster for returns as well as rookies J.J. Koski, Easop Winston, Jr., Trishton Jackson and Earnest Edwards, IV. This is another deep position corps.
Trewyn signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was activated for one game. He did not play in that matchup. The Rams also signed the former Wisconsin-Whitewater center late in the season to the practice squad. Trewyn sat behind Brian Allen and competed with Coleman Shelton. Shelton did see some offensive snaps in 2019 and was also signed as a free agent in April. Once undrafted rookie Cohl Cabral was brought in, that may have sealed the deal for Trewyn.
Wolf was on the Jacksonville Jaguars practice squad in 2019 and signed with the Rams at the end of the season. It is no secret that the Rams group of talented tight ends will give great competition. Even at 6’5,” 255 pounds, the former Tennessee standout was still far behind on the depth chart. Rookie signee Brycen Hopkins is a solid backup to Gerald Everett. Some argue that Hopkins most likely will replace Everett in 2021 when he is up for free agency. Until then, starting tight end Tyler Higbee, Everett, Johnny Mundt, Kendall Blanton and Hopkins have stacked the position. With a slew of tight ends like that, Wolf may not have made the practice squad.
The Rams are not done with cuts. They still need to release five more players to meet the maximum number. It will be interesting to say the least to see who they pick. There are quite a few quarterbacks behind Jared Goff and several kickers. One of each position is certainly a possibility. There is a large corps of receivers even after cutting Dortch. One of them could possibly go. Barring any major injuries, the Rams are still protected with talented reserves in each position.
The cuts to Dortch, Gervase, Trewyn and Wolf may not be too surprising. It shows the tough choices the Rams must make when fitting a smaller roster in 2020. It also prioritizes what positions the Rams believe are most important, and how they fit into the new offensive and defensive schemes.