The New England Patriots might have exactly what the Los Angeles Rams need right now.
The Rams Suddenly Have a Need at RB
The Rams got terrible news on Tuesday. Second-year running back Cam Akers suffered a torn Achilles, and he will miss the entire 2021 season.
The 22-year-old blossomed into a feature back in 2020 during his rookie campaign. He played in 13 games, started five of them, and notably lit the Patriots up for 171 rushing yards in a lopsided Week 14 win.
Hopes were high for Akers heading into his second season, but now it appears the Rams will be looking at Darrell Henderson to be his replacement in the Los Angeles backfield.
While Henderson may be capable of carrying the majority of the load, depth is important at every position in the NFL, but it is even more important at running back.
That could be where the Patriots can help themselves and the Rams.
Sony Michel Considered a Potential Answer For Los Angeles
Sports Illustrated’s Mike D’Abate believes the Patriots would be wise to at least kick the tires on a trade discussion centered around veteran running back Sony Michel. D’Abate said: “it may be intriguing to consider moving a player like Sony Michel.”
In a longer form explanation, he breaks down the Patriots current depth chart and the potential fit for Michel with the Rams.
When he has seen the field, Michel has been a productive player for the Patriots. In his three seasons in New England, he has rushed for 2,689 yards on 620 carries and 20 touchdowns. Still, the two sides appear to be headed for a split following the 2021 season. In addition to the team drafting another potential early-down back in Rhamondre Stevenson, the Pats then declined Michel’s fifth-year contract option. Therefore, 2021 projects as the 26-year-old’s final season in New England. As a result, Michel has become the subject of both trade and release rumors. The team could create cap savings in either instance. With the Patriots declining his fifth-year option, Michel is set to count $3.06 million against the cap in 2021; $1.83 million of which is guaranteed. New England could unload $1.79 million of his salary off its books via trade, and $1.23 million by releasing him. With Akers suffering his season-ending injury, some have speculated as to whether the Patriots might be wise to contact the Rams to gauge their interest in trading for Michel. After all, the Rams have a clear need at the position, and the Pats might have a palpable motive to move him before he hits free agency in 2022.
The financial relief could help to facilitate a deal for disgruntled All-Pro cornerback Stephon Gilmore, and it will almost certainly lead to the acquisition of potential valuable draft picks.
The question is: Will trading Michel put the Patriots in the same situation the Rams are in now with Akers injured? While Damien Harris certainly looks the part of a main back for a solid running football team, and rookie Rhamondre Stevenson has potentially an even high ceiling, New England could be one injury away from peril.
New England does have J.J. Taylor, Tyler Gaffney and James White, but an injury could force one of them up a slot and out of their specialty role in the offense. We saw what that can look like with New England’s wide receivers and tight ends last year.
Still, because it’s usually not as hard to find depth at running back, New England should entertain the idea if the Rams are interested.
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