It’s NFL Trade Deadline Day! How will the Rams trade deadline go?
While not as famous as its cousin in Major League Baseball, which puts the day later in the season so teams can infamously “rent” players for the homestretch, the NFL trade deadline (4 p.m. eastern time) gives teams a chance to retool their rosters one way or the other.
So Los Angeles Rams General Manager Les Snead, are you in or are you out?
The Super Bowl champion Los Angeles Rams are 3-5 after getting throttled by the San Francisco 49ers Sunday. They have been decimated by injuries on the offensive line. The defense hasn’t been consistent. Cam Akers is in absentia.
There are reasons why Snead and the Rams should be sellers today. Gulp, yes, sellers after the Super Bowl, and there are reasons why the Rams should be buyers. Let’s look at the case for each and wonder what Snead must be thinking.
Sell, Sell, Sell!
We all see it. The Rams are a one-man offense: Cooper Kupp. The offensive line has never been able to find a rhythm with so many guys hurt. The running game ranks last in the NFL. Last.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford has been ok. He can still wing it, but the only guy who is ever consistently open is Kupp, and maybe Tyler Higbee.
Stafford has never developed much rapport with Allen Robinson II. Shut down Kupp, or at least limit him, and you stop the Rams.
The Rams are ninth in the NFC right now. The Rams look old, even though they have one of the youngest rosters in the NFL.
The Rams are almost like a microcosm of the Lakers, because they’ve traded their assets. The Rams don’t have a lot of draft picks (no No. 1 or No. 2) in 2023. So push the reset button, get some picks, go 6-11 and start again next year.
But Sell Who?
How big do you want to go? The Rams do have some players who can contribute around the league in new homes. Don’t buy any of the talk that no one is untradeable. Everyone is tradeable for the right price. The biggest sports trade in history was made in LA (Wayne Gretzky). If someone wants to offer the Rams two No. 1 picks for Aaron Donald, I’m at least listening, you know what I mean?
Honestly though, Donald is probably untouchable. He just signed a big deal.
But there are a bunch of Rams who could provide a return. The Rams are loaded with depth in the secondary. Jordan Fuller has been hurt, but he’s still a young, multi-talented safety. Robert Rochell, David Long Jr. and Taylor Rapp are each quality coverage guys. The Rams can’t/don’t play all of them.
Bobby Wagner leads the Rams with 32 solo tackles, but how many impact plays has he made, besides hitting the protester in Santa Clara? Not many. If someone calls me for him, I’m listening, because I think Ernest Jones is younger and better.
A’Shawn Robinson has been ‘just a guy’ on the defensive line. He’s been disappointing. Higbee could be on the block too, because the Rams have good depth at tight end.
The Cam Akers Saga
Akers leaves the team, sits out for a couple of weeks, the Rams talk about trading him, and now are mulling bringing him back.
This whole situation was handled weirdly. What smart NFL franchise basically announces they want to trade a player? Usually, the demand comes from the player/agent. By saying they wanted to trade Akers, the Rams ruined his trade value, because what NFL team is going to offer anything for a player you’ve said you want to get rid of?
Ronnie Rivers started at running back against the 49ers. Kyren Williams, the myth, the fourth-round pick, may finally get a chance to play soon. There’s no room in the backfield for Akers, just cut him already.
Buy Buy Buy!
On the flip side, selling is not part of the Rams nature. It’s just not what they do. Part of it is psychological, players want to believe that team management is behind them 100 percent and trying to win every year. One way teams signal that is by being aggressive in free agency and at the trade deadline. You think the Niners locker room is happy this week after they got Christian McCaffrey and won a big game?
What the Rams really need is Andrew Whitworth back on the offensive line, but that isn’t happening. But if I am Snead, offensive line is where I am looking. I will take any starter or two that may be available.
An improved offensive line for the Rams makes every other issue dissolve. The running game gets better, there’s more time for the passing game to develop, the defense is on the field less. The problem is, quality offensive linemen aren’t so easy to find, and they don’t come cheap.
Or Just Stand Still
Eight games into the season and the Rams aren’t out of it. They are 3-5 with nine games to play and play the 3-5 Buccaneers on Sunday.
It wasn’t until Week 14 last year when the Rams beat Arizona that I really felt like the Rams could win the Super Bowl. Things were just falling into place. But the Rams were 9-4 at that point. They were in a good spot.
Super Bowl teams have that magical feeling about them by now. They are healthy, they are dominating teams, they are getting bounces, the fan base is going nuts. Right now, that describes the Buffalo Bills and the Philadelphia Eagles. Not the Rams. Let’s be honest.
What saves the Rams is how weak the NFC is. Would you take the Rams as a wild card against the potential NFC South champ Atlanta Falcons in a playoff game (I would) or against the Minnesota Vikings? But to get in, the Rams probably need 5-6 more wins.
Buy or sell? The Rams are at a crossroads.