And when a player expected to play a pivotal role in the offense goes down with a season-ending knee injury, fans and followers of the Rams wonder what will be the response from the head coach?
Well, Sean McVay quickly responded to the Akers situation and the Rams’ backfield on the Max Kellerman Show on ESPN 710 AM. Like Ram fans and Akers’ teammates, McVay feels the devastation of losing Akers for the entire season.
“You just feel so bad for him because he’s doing everything right. He’s working hard… It’s a bummer but you put your arm around him. You support him,” McVay told Kellerman.
Akers sent this tweet out on Tuesday afternoon.
McVay said despite feeling the blow of losing Akers, he is intrigued by who is on the current running back depth chart. And is he considering free agency?
Is Diving Into Free Agency Imminent?
ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported around approximately 9:30 a.m. PT that the Rams aren’t planning to hit the free agent market. Yet, Schefter doesn’t rule out the Rams shifting course to address the Akers situation.
The NFL Network’s Peter Schrager, who co-hosts the “Flying Coach” podcast with McVay, believes the Rams will settle for who they have now.
However, Rams beat writer Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic is a believer the team should make a move.
Rodrigue then posted a subsequent tweet, which points to the 2021 Ram backfield having durability concerns, which is the indicator the Rams may need to hit the free agency market.
Who Should the Rams Pursue if Free Agency is the Move?
Well, there’s notable names who have a past history of eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark who are still out there. Names like Le’Veon Bell, Adrian Peterson and, brace yourself Rams fans, Todd Gurley who are still on the open market.
But the questions are: Will they be willing to accept what will likely be a shared load? What kind of shape are they in? And finally, who actually is a prime fit for the Rams if free agency is the move?
Let’s start with what looks like the elephant in the room: Addressing Gurley. Yes, he was immensely successful in a Rams uniform. However, he also had a bitter falling out with the team that eventually led to his departure. And, at 26-years-old, will he be willing to take a lesser deal from the Rams if called upon? Gurley has been injury prone and also underwhelmed in Atlanta. He’s likely out.
Bell has been successful before. But in Kansas City, he never really flashed the impact that he once had when he was a Pittsburgh Steeler. And he had his bitter ending with the New York Jets attached to his post-Steel City career. At 29, he would only be good for a change-of-pace type back to spell the likely starter moving forward in L.A. Darrell Henderson Jr.
Peterson is still chugging away at 36. He has a connection to Matthew Stafford from being on the Detroit Lions last season. He managed to score seven touchdowns in limited duty. Peterson still wants to play. His age and past injury history, though, could convince the Rams to look elsewhere. But still, Peterson would provide an extra locker room veteran leader if given the chance.
But the one intriguing FA the Rams ought to consider if they decide to dip into that market: Former Houston Texan Duke Johnson. Why? McVay hinted at using Akers as a slot receiver in certain packages. Johnson, who caught 28 passes for 249 yards and one touchdown in Houston last season, gives McVay that running/receiving option.