The NFL offseason is just about here and for the Los Angeles Rams, that means big changes could be coming.
Despite their 5-12 finish in 2022, the Rams have aspirations of getting back into postseason contention in 2023, giving it one last run with their Super Bowl core.
To make that happen though, the Rams will need to hope for better health while also making some savvy roster moves given their lack of cap space.
Some of those moves could come via trade. We obviously know the Rams are not afraid to make a big move and sacrifice draft picks for proven commodities. Is there a big trade that makes sense this offseason though?
Pro Football Focus’ Marcus Mosher believes so as he recently came up with five blockbuster trades that would make sense this offseason and one of them was the Rams sending the No. 37 overall pick in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft to the Indianapolis Colts for running back Jonathan Taylor.
Why I don’t like this deal
Before I get into this specific trade, let me be clear here: I am not opposed to the Rams making another “win-now” trade that hampers their future. If you’re gonna give it a go with this core hoping for another Super Bowl before entering a rebuild, you might as well go all in and give yourselves the best chance to compete.
But while I am in favor of making a deal, this is not the one for me. And the reason for that can be boiled down to two words: Todd Gurley.
Gurley had an outstanding first three seasons with the Rams after being drafted in the first round out of Georgia. After being named NFL Offensive Player of the Year in his third season, the Rams gave him a big contract extension that was well-deserved at the time.
The only problem was that Gurley’s knee issues didn’t allow him to continue his dominance. After signing the extension, Gurley had one more outstanding season before the knee issues really started to give him trouble. After an injury-plagued 2019 season, the Rams wound up needing to release him before the extension even kicked in, which put them in a tough spot financially that they are just now recovering from.
Taylor and Gurley are obviously two different players, but the overall point here is that it is a huge risk to devote significant assets and cap space to the running back position.
I don’t want to downplay Taylor’s greatness, because he is really good. In his three-year career with the Colts, Taylor has averaged 89.3 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. He was absolutely incredible in 2021 when he played in every game and had 2,171 yards from scrimmage and 20 touchdowns.
CMC vs. Taylor
If the Rams could add that guy to their offense then it could be a game-changer much like Christian McCaffrey was for the San Francisco 49ers.
The only problem, and the same thing is the case for McCaffrey, is that injuries have already started to hamper Taylor. He was limited to just 11 games in 2022 due to a high ankle sprain, and this isn’t the first ankle issue he has dealt with. Even when Taylor was on the field, his production was down by a full yard per carry compared to the previous season.
As Mosher laid out in his article, Taylor is also about to enter the final year of his rookie deal and will surely want to be paid like one of the highest running backs in the league a year from now. Where is that money going to come from? The Rams have done a nice job freeing up money in the past to accommodate big acquisitions, but that can’t continue on forever. The NFL salary cap is not a myth and the Rams do not have much, if any, space to work with.
If I was the Rams and looking to make a big move, I would be looking for a pass rusher, not a running back.
Akers is decent
There are a variety of reasons for that, including Cam Akers’ emergence in the final games of 2022, teams utilizing running back by committee more and the plethora of veteran backs available on the free agent market.
The Rams have needs that are far more apparent than running back, and even if they view running back as a need, the draft has a ton of them. I would rather use that No. 37 overall pick on a running back who could become the next Taylor (who was a second-round pick himself) on a four-year rookie contract as opposed to giving up assets AND paying Taylor big money.
Again, that is not to downplay Taylor’s greatness. It’s just about how to best manage your limited assets to get back to competing in 2023.