Should Patriots Call Running Back-Needy Rams After Cam Akers Injury?

Sony Michel is one specific trade chip that comes to mind

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The Los Angeles Rams have suffered the fate no team in the National Football League wants to endure.

The Rams lost starting running back Cam Akers for the season with a torn Achilles injury, just before reporting for training camp.

And while fellow running back Darrell Henderson seems to be a more than capable option, there’s no denying Los Angeles, a team built to win a Super Bowl after the blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford, has its eyes on competing for a championship. Did their chances of doing so go out the window with the loss of Akers? Well, that may be a bit premature. But its undeniable that the Rams’ backfield depth took a hit.

The Rams now look to two unproved options behind Henderson, who ran for 624 yards (4.5 yard-per-rush average) with five touchdowns in 2020: Xavier Jones, an undrafted SMU product who did not play a single offensive snap in 2020, and 2021 seventh-rounder Jake Funk are next atop the depth chart.

It certainly begs the question whether the Rams could try to trade for another running back in order to, at the very least, complement Henderson.

Enter the New England Patriots.

And, specifically, enter Patriots running back Sony Michel.

Bill Belichick certainly should pick up the phone and call Rams head coach Sean McVay to at least see what L.A. would give up for the 2018 first-rounder.

Michel actually would make sense for the Rams, too. He is extremely cheap as he enters the final year of his rookie contract with a base salary of $1.8 million and cap hit of $3 million, and he is not under contract past 2021 after New England declined his fifth-year option. Essentially it means Akers could return to his job next season and the Rams wouldn’t have additional finances tied up to the position.

Michel has, at times, proven capable to be the starting running back, and his postseason production at the end of 2018 offers a glimpse into how efficient he can be. McVay and the Rams saw that up close during Super Bowl LIII. Of course, the Rams would be taking a chance on a player who has played 16 games just once in his three-year career. But based on the position they’re in, it’s probably worth the flier. Michel is coming off a 2020 season in which he played nine games (six starts) and tallied a 5.7 yard-per-rush average on 79 carries for 449 yards.

The Patriots, on the other hand, should be interested in trading Michel because of their depth at the position. Michel, listed second on the depth chart, is likely to be behind 2019 third-rounder Damien Harris throughout the campaign. And then the Patriots have pass-catching back James White under contract for one year along with 2021 fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson, veteran Brandon Bolden and even J.J. Taylor. Stevenson very well could be stashed for the upcoming season (as Belichick has done in the past with rookie running backs) but his selection almost certainly means Michel will not remain in New England beyond this year.

Perhaps that’s the biggest reason why Belichick should ask. After all, it’s better to get something for Michel now then have him leave for nothing in free agency — even if that something is minimal.

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