Former NFL GM Weighs in on the Rams’ RB Trade Rumblings

Bobby Wagner

Getty Bobby Wagner tries to wrap up Christian McCaffrey on October 16, 2022.

Cam Akers for Christian McCaffrey? Akers for draft picks?

Or, are both really considered non-tradeable assets for any NFL team? Including the Los Angeles Rams in the case for the former top 10 pick McCaffrey?

Who better to answer those burning questions than a man who has been in the seat of making and deciding on similar deals: Randy Mueller.

The former NFL general manager for the New Orleans Saints and the Miami Dolphins spoke with Heavy on Rams on Thursday, October 20 to give his take on the ongoing saga of determining the future of both the Rams’ Akers and if the 2019 All-Pro McCaffrey can find a way to make his contract work in the “Rams House” if he’s dealt to L.A.

One is a ‘Valuable Asset,’ the Other ‘Hasn’t Regained Form’

Mueller, who’s also a regular contributor to Heavy, first dove into the Carolina Panthers star who recently combined for 158 total yards in the 24-10 loss to the Rams on Sunday, October 16.

Does Mueller view the versatile 5-foot-11, 205-pound past All-Pro and former Heisman Trophy candidate out of Stanford as an asset or at this stage, more of a rental piece for a team needing running back help?

“I think McCaffrey is a viable asset for anybody but has to be looked at like a rental for eight weeks,” Mueller told Heavy on Rams. “His cap number in ’23 is problematic for some, most.”

McCaffrey’s base salary is currently $1,035,000 per Spotrac. However, that salary jumps to $11,800,000 in 2023. Mueller then mentioned one gamble the Rams took recently which also came with a hefty price.

“The Rams gave a two and a three for Von Miller last year on a one-year deal. That’s an extremely high price,” Mueller said. “But my guess is that’s where Carolina will start with — an asking price.”

McCaffrey has been lauded as a dynamic weapon when healthy who brings a mix of violent running and versatility as a receiving threat out of the backfield — two prime elements for a Sean McVay-led offense. But would Mueller open up the wallet and drop lots of cash to get McCaffrey?

“I would not pay that for a running back, just my opinion,” Mueller said.

Meanwhile, Akers is in a different spot compared to McCaffrey. The former second rounder from the 2020 draft may be younger at 23 and the owner of a Super Bowl ring. However, he hasn’t surpassed 100 yards in a game since his return from a torn Achilles and was not on the field for the Rams’ 14-point win over McCaffrey and Carolina. What kind of deal does Mueller believe Akers is worth?

“I think he would be a throw in a deal, especially with someplace like Carolina,” Mueller said.

This likely means draft picks would need to be included to make an Akers deal look enticing for someone.

While most of the NFL fan base lauded Akers for coming back for the postseason after the devastating knee injury, Mueller believes he hasn’t recaptured the form that made him a high draft pick out of Florida State.

“He came back too Early last year, hasn’t regained form, now they’ve kind of turned it back on him for whatever reason,” Mueller said.

Members of Rams Backfield Sound Off in First Game Without Akers

With Akers, the Rams struggled to find any kind of footing in their ground game — as they didn’t surpass 101 yards in the five games Akers was in the rotation.

But against the Panthers? The Rams hit a season-high of 111 yards.

All three running backs Darrell Henderson, Malcolm Brown and Ronnie Rivers each delivered one play of crossing past 10 yards, the latter catching a 14-yard pass that placed the Rams at the Carolina 5 which ultimately led to Matt Gay tying things up with a 21-yard field goal.

Two members of the Rams backfield spoke with Heavy following the first game without Akers.

“Just to get a couple of things rolling after a rough first half, I think it’s very encouraging,” Brown said, who additionally lauded the performance of the offensive line by witnessing their improvement. “We need that throughout the season, just being able to improve no matter what the circumstances are regardless if guys are hurt or whatever is going on. Just being able to lock in our jobs.”

The Fresno State Bulldog Rivers, meanwhile, wrapped up his first game action since the November 25, 2021 Valley Championship game versus San Jose State.

“It’s a great feeling. It’s just a blessing to have that opportunity to show what I can do. And to come out and get the ‘W,’ it means a lot especially before the bye week,” Rivers said. “I think we [the running game] did a great job — me, Darrell and ‘Malc’ all did a great job running the ball.”

But once the Rams return from the bye, they’re expected to welcome back rookie Kyren Williams from injury. Perhaps Akers and McCaffrey will have new NFL homes by then.

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