The Rams could be very good this year. They could get to the Super Bowl. They could win it.
The path became more difficult when running back Cam Akers, a potential breakout star for 2021, tore an Achilles tendon just before the start of training camp. The Rams didn’t declare an emergency at the time. They now have.
The trade for Patriots running back Sony Michel comes a little more than a month after coach Sean McVay said that the Rams would stick with the guys they have.
“We’ve got some young backs on our roster that I’m intrigued about seeing how they handle this opportunity,” McVay said in the aftermath of the Akers injury. “I don’t know that the veteran route is something that we’d rule out, but it’s not something we’re immediately looking to address right now.”
A serious foot injury to Raymond Calais and a thumb injury suffered more recently by new starter Darrell Henderson may have become the final straw for the Rams, when it comes to relying on the young players on the roster.
Surely, the trade for Michel (who rushed for 94 yards and a touchdown in Super Bowl LIII against the Rams) didn’t happen overnight. Chances are that the conversations began not long after the Akers injury, that the Patriots set a price, and that the Rams balked at it. If so, the Rams (with the regular season looming) recently decided to finalize the deal and move on.
They’re giving up either a fifth- and sixth-round pick in 2022 or the compensatory fourth-rounder they’ll get for losing safety John Johnson in free agency. That seems like a lot to give up for a former Georgia tailback with multiple injuries including a potentially degenerative knee condition, especially given that the Rams aren’t very far removed in the grand scheme of things from escaping a contract with a former Georgia tailback with multiple injuries including a degenerative knee condition.
In the coming days, plenty of young and healthy and capable tailbacks will be available as rosters fall from 80 to 53. Other veterans can be had with no sacrifice of draft picks, like Frank Gore and Adrian Petersen. (Todd Gurley — the aforementioned other former Georgia tailback — also is available. But a reunion was always highly unlikely.)
As one league source put it, “Great trade for New England. The Rams hate to draft these days.”
Indeed they do. With no first-round pick next year or the year after, that compensatory fourth-rounder would have come in handy. Now, it’s being used on a running back who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, because he didn’t do enough in his first three seasons to get the Patriots to pick up the fifth-year option.