The Minnesota Vikings emerging as one of the teams to beat in the NFC has made them a destination for players on the move.
The Vikings have been thrown into the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes with the potential of a significant postseason run ahead.
Vikings a Top Trade Candidate for Rams RB Cam Akers
A 2020 second-round pick, Akers is coming off a Super Bowl-winning season where he made a miraculous six-month recovery from a torn ACL injury, eventually leading Los Angeles with 393 rushing yards and adding 127 receiving yards.
But eight months since hoisting the Lombardi Trophy, Akers is on the move. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on October 16 that Akers, after being ruled out due to personal reasons in Week 6, is on the trade market with the Rams actively seeking trades for the third-year running back.
“Sources say Akers, who is out today due to what was described as personal reasons, has philosophical and football-related differences with head coach Sean McVay. The coach has left Akers’ future open, and sources say the third-year pro could be on the way out,” Rapoport wrote on October 16. “The belief is that he’ll draw significant trade interest, and the team is open to a deal for the right value.”
Bearing Akers’ diminishing presence in Los Angeles, CBS Sports’ Cody Benjamin listed the top candidates to land Akers, naming the Vikings among the top teams that could trade for him.
Yes, Minnesota has a loaded backfield, but with Alexander Mattison reaching free agency next offseason, it would be an opportune time to find a similar replacement to Minnesota’s backfield in Akers, whose rookie contract expires in 2024.
“Dalvin Cook isn’t gonna be surrendering carries anytime soon, but he’s got an injury history, and backup Alexander Mattison will be a free agent after the year.” Benjamin wrote. “The Vikings think of themselves as contenders, and Akers has internal connections: coach Kevin O’Connell was his offensive coordinator in 2020, and Minnesota OC Wes Phillips is also a former Rams assistant.”
Akers had an impressive rookie year after a breakout game where he rushed for 171 yards against the New England Patriots — a rare feat to best Bill Belichick on the ground.
“Twenty-nine carries for 171 yards against Bill Belichick’s defense turns heads,” Adam Schein wrote in 2021, also noting Akers’ impressive two-game playoff stretch that season. “The guy was a stud in L.A.’s two playoff games, piling up 221 rushing yards and two touchdowns, along with 51 receiving yards.
Akers was valuable and defied medical opinion with his recovery last season to help the Rams win a Super Bowl, but he has yet to recapture the glory of his rookie season in Year 3.
Vikings Running Game Could Use a Boost
Through six weeks this season, the Vikings haven’t run the ball as they have in past seasons. That was to be expected with O’Connell taking hold of the offensive playcalling and pivoting to a more modern passing offense.
However, everything the Vikings want to do is predicated on what mold the team was built in to run the wide zone. But after six weeks, Minnesota has attempted the fifth-fewest rush attempts and has posted the 10th-lowest rushing yards per game (97.8).
Cook is still running as an effective 4.8 yards per carry, but that number is largely skewed by a 53-yard rushing touchdown that sealed a victory over the Miami Dolphins last week. Cook gained just 24 yards on the 12 other carries that game. He has yet to surpass 100 rushing yards in a game this season, but the run he broke in Miami is an encouraging sign Cook can still create explosive plays.