The New England Patriots may have more depth at running back than any team in the NFL. Whenever there are arguably three running backs on one roster capable of starting for multiple teams (Damien Harris, Sony Michel and Rhamondre Stevenson) there’s bound to be interest from other teams in the league.
In light of the recent injuries the Los Angeles Rams are dealing with, USA Today’s Henry McKenna believes the NFC West contender could have some interest in trading for Michel. The Rams lost second-year running back Cam Akers tore his Achilles in July and he’s out for the season.
Akers’ presumed replacement Darrell Henderson suffered a thumb injury on Monday, and now the little depth the Rams had seems to be shaky. This development prompted McKenna to suggest Michel might be looking “really appealing” at the moment.
The Patriots have rushed for 386 yards in two preseason games and are averaging 5.5 yards per carry. Harris is the guy set to start and get the most snaps of the group, but everyone else–including Michel, Stevenson, James White and J.J. Taylor have been strong.
Stevenson, a rookie, may be the guy who makes Michel expendable. The former Oklahoma Sooners star has rushed for two touchdowns in each game, with one being a 92-yard scamper against the Washington Football Team.
Taylor has really shown a lot of growth since last season. He has 103 yards rushing on 14 carries with a touchdown.
Would Bill Belichick give up some of the depth in his running back room?
Belichick Singing the Praises of His Running Backs
Belichick knows what he has at running back and he doesn’t sound like a man in a hurry to trade any of the depth. During his meeting with the media on Monday, August 23, Belichick said:
“We’re very fortunate to have the quality of players — and people, I would say — …of that group. It’s been a very competitive group.”
The translation: he’d just as soon keep the running backs he has, maybe with the exception of veteran Brandon Bolden who has missed most of training camp with an injury after being among 8 players who opted out in 2020.
New England has six running backs, and it seems unlikely they will keep all of them. However, it’s possible they will keep five as Bolden once played a significant role on special teams. We may be seeing Stevenson take over his role, perhaps with a bit more upside because of his ability to hurt a defense as the ball carrier.
What Would the Trade Return Be for Michel?
While Michel played an integral role in the Patriots’ last Super Bowl win, he’s battled injuries much of his career. While he appears healthy and explosive now, the Rams and any other team in need of a running back might be hesitant to acquire Michel if the price tag is too high.
Based on the still limited appeal of running backs and Michel’s injury history, the Patriots aren’t likely to get more than a fifth-round pick if they move him.