Most trades in professional sports have a clear loser or winner. Rarely do both teams walk away equally dissatisfied or satisfied with the long-term impact of a trade.
It hasn’t even been half a season since the New England Patriots traded Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams for a sixth-round pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023. It was a nice haul for a player who wasn’t even projecting as a starter for the Patriots at the time–despite playing an integral role in the Patriots’ last Super Bowl title.
Damien Harris had been penciled as the favorite to be the closest thing to an every-down back as you’ll see in the NFL these days. Week 6 seems a little premature to have a conversation about which team won the Michel trade, but it’s 2021 and that’s sort of a thing.
Despite the small sample size, some analysts are ready to declare a victory for the Rams in this trade.
The Patriots Are Missing Sony Michel, Says NFL Writer
Harris hasn’t had as good of a season as the Patriots hoped and some believe New England could use Michel on their roster right now.
The Patriots still decided to enter the 2021 season with Harris as the starter, with James White, Brandon Bolden, J.J. Taylor, and Rhamondre Stevenson as backups … and Sony Michel with the LA Rams. Though Harris rushed for exactly 100 yards in Week 1’s loss to the Dolphins (Harris has four career 100-yard efforts but only one of those games is over 102 yards), he has still been one of the NFL’s worst starting running backs in the first month of the season. In the last four games, Harris has 40 carries for 130 yards, averaging 3.25 yards per carry with only five catches for 29 yards. He has also lost two fumbles, including one against Miami and one this past Sunday against the Texans. Two weeks ago against the Buccaneers, Harris had four carries and he finished with -4 rushing yards. Three weeks ago, Sony Michel got his first and only start with the Rams and it also came against Tampa Bay: 20 carries, 67 yards, three catches for 12 yards. Though Michel also struggled against the same team, the Bucs are the best run defense in the NFL and Michel wasn’t completely lost. He even had a few nice runs against Tampa and helped LA run down the clock in a way that Harris was unable to against Baltimore in 2020. Damien Harris’ last 4: 40 carries, 130 yards, 3.25 YPC, 5 rec, 29 yards, 1 FL, five carries of 10+ yards, 13 carries for 0 or negative yardage Sony Michel, 2021: 45 carries, 163 yards, 3.6 YPC, 4 rec, 20 yards, 1 FL, five carries of 10+ yards, eight carries for 0 or negative yardage Perhaps the most telling stat is the negative yardage plays. Already this season, Harris has four plays where he lost more than two yards: -3, -4, -4, and -5. And each of those four plays came in a different game, so it is not as though Harris was just “having a bad day.” Sony Michel hasn’t lost more than 2 yards on any single play and he only has three plays total that went for negative yardage. Harris has nine such plays.
There are some facts included in this take, but there are so many missed details, it’s tough to know where to begin.
There is More to the Damien Harris-Sony Michel Story
Do the Patriots miss Michel right now? I guess you could say that considering the Patriots would definitely be giving him a ton of carries with Harris hobbled, White out and the other young backs struggling.
That said, I’m not sure Michel would be making a ton more difference if he was still with the Patriots. Also, it’s hard to suggest the Rams have gotten the better of a deal when the trade includes draft picks the Patriots haven’t gotten an opportunity to use.
Michel has seemingly fit in well with the Rams who had some serious depth issues at running back. However, it’s far too soon to have any “who-won-the-trade” thoughts.
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