The Los Angeles Rams have a lot of question marks going into the offseason, and one of them is the wide receiver position.
Cooper Kupp is still on the team, which obviously gives the Rams a true No. 1 weapon. After him though, guys struggled to emerge in 2022.
Allen Robinson’s struggles in L.A. have been well-documented after signing as a free agent last offseason, but the Rams’ No. 3 option was supposed to be Van Jefferson and he never really got going.
Jefferson dealt with a knee issue during the Rams’ Super Bowl run and wound up needing to get surgery, beginning the 2022 season on injured reserve.
The third-year receiver was activated in Week 8 and played the team’s final 11 games, although his production was down with 24 receptions for 369 yards and three touchdowns. Jefferson had a career year in 2021, hauling in 50 receptions for 802 yards and six touchdowns. He went 47.2 yards per game last season to just 33.5 yards per game in 2022.
There obviously are a variety of reasons for this, with the knee issue being one of them. Even though Jefferson was activated and returned in Week 8, he still needed to take a few weeks to get back in the swing of things. And by the time he was 100% healthy, the Rams were essentially out of the postseason race and also without a quarterback.
Didn’t get to see him with QB1 much
Jefferson only played in three games with Matthew Stafford at quarterback and then the duo of John Wolford and Bryce Perkins struggled to get him the ball in the ensuing weeks.
It wasn’t until the final two weeks of the season that Jefferson got going, developing some chemistry with Baker Mayfield. After catching the game-winning touchdown in the famous comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, Jefferson then had a combined six receptions for 138 yards in the final two games of the year.
Considering the struggles that Jefferson went through just to get back on the field and then to perform well, it had to have felt good to put up some production to close out the season.
It also was a good sign for the Rams organization, who is looking to get back into postseason contention in 2023 but has limited resources for improving the roster.
Where Jefferson stands going into 2023
With that being said, Jefferson is still very much in the Rams’ plans moving forward. The former second-round pick is going into the final season of his rookie contract and will hopefully have a healthy offseason.
Maybe the Rams add a receiver through free agency or the draft, but the more likely scenario is going into the 2023 season with the same group as this past year.
That means it will be up to guys not named Kupp like Robinson, Jefferson, Tutu Atwell and Ben Skowronek to emerge.
Jefferson built chemistry with Stafford in 2021 as the Rams’ primary deep threat. They connected on a number of big plays, adding another layer to the Rams’ offense which obviously led to success in the form of a Super Bowl win.
The hope is that they can get back to that in 2023