The Los Angeles Rams now have 80 options on their 2022 roster, following their decision to make five more cuts on the morning of Saturday, August 20 — just one day after their preseason loss to the Houston Texans.
But it’s one roster decision that’s considered a surprise move the Super Bowl 56 champs made: Cutting veteran tight end Kendall Blanton.
The towering 6-foot-6 Blanton has played his entire NFL career with the Rams, who brought him in as a undrafted free agent. Blanton came to the Rams with “good combination of size and speed” and had “athletic ability that clicks after the catch” as written by nfl.com draft expert Lance Zierlein.
Blanton gets cut after playing sparingly in 2021 — making two starts and catching four total passes for 37 yards with half of his catches good enough for the first down according to Pro Football Reference. Blanton also took over for the injured Tyler Higbee when the Rams went toe-to-toe with the Cincinnati Bengals with the Vince Lombardi Trophy on the line. In a rather thin tight end room, Blanton was expected to add extra depth at that spot.
The Rams, though, have decided to move in a different direction with the athletic option who once signed a two-year, $1,675,000 contract in 2021. But what was his reaction to the stunning move?
The Rams announced their roster decision at 11:05 a.m. Pacific Saturday. Along with Blanton, the Rams announced a waive/no recall on running back Raymond Calais, fellow RB A.J. Rose and defensive back Jairon McVea. Wide receiver J.J. Koski was another who was waived, but has an injury designation.
But at 12:08 p.m. Pacific — one hour and three minutes after the Rams’ decision to not lure back the tight end — Blanton took to Twitter to share his reaction about the champs’ decision to part ways. Long story short, he used the word “grateful” three times.
“I’m grateful. Grateful for it all,” Blanton posted to the Rams’ Twitter account. “I’m grateful for the opportunity. The ups and the downs and everything I’ve learned and experience in my 4 years here. I believe in God and I know that while I may not always understand it, his plan is greater than my own.”
Emergence of 3 Rams May Have Sparked Surprise Cut: Insider
When a player gets released, there’s always a reason attached to it.
For Blanton, signs point to the emergence of three Rams during both camp and preseason that may have persuaded the move — which was noted by Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic.
“The Kendall Blanton cut is a big one and says multiple things,” Rodrigue posted.
She noted how the Rams first “want to keep extra wide receivers, maybe as many as eight,” added how the Rams may need to go with a ratio of three quarterbacks and four running backs and lastly, she noted three players who have made their cases to stay on the final 53-man roster for August 31: Brycen Hopkins, Jacob Harris and preseason breakout star Lance McCutcheon, who is the current preseason leader in receptions with 10.
Of the three, McCutcheon is labeled the biggest surprise by also leading the champs in reception yardage and scoring two touchdowns (plus a two-point conversion catch) in the August slate of games.
But back to the theory behind Blanton’s departure, some fans and media members will view that as a move that could mean more wideouts that last season’s roster. But head coach Sean McVay called the cut “a total separate thing” from that more WRs thought.
Blanton now joins Andrew Whitworth, Eric Weddle, Austin Corbett, Darious Williams and Von Miller as Super Bowl 56 starters no longer with the Rams. Blanton also joins Jamal Pettigrew as the second tight end to be cut.