It’s Theme Week Wednesday!
Three Theme Weeks ago, we looked at the best newcomer on every team. I had to tab LT Andrew Whitworth. The next week, we looked at the best and worst teams in every division. As for the best of the NFC West, I thought then (and still do) it’s a battle between the past (Seattle Seahawks) and the future (Los Angeles Rams). Last week, it was about personnel redos. The only one that hasn’t paid clear dividends is the Lance Dunbar signing. That’s telling of how positive every other move has been, though!
This week, we’re looking at what trade deal each team needs to make.
What’s been fun as some of the different SBN NFL sites’ entries come in is how much the quality of each team is affecting the perception of the piece. Your team’s not doing well? Sell your best wide receiver! Are you 5-2 getting ready for a playoff push? Buy, buy, buy!!!
And while I was alluding to the New England Patriots there, the Rams are in the same position. Perhaps you’ve heard. The Rams, too, are 5-2 atop the NFC West. Coming out of the bye week in Week 8, they’ll be looking at meaningful November football (or what I called pre-postseason football on our most recent episode of Turf Show Radio) which, in this hypothetical situation of forcing a trade, leaves me thinking we’d buy to strengthen rather than sell off. I don’t know that we’re in a position to sell any starters right now. Perhaps we’re a bit long at WR with quality depth, but I don’t know that we can afford to sell off at the top.
That leaves us, as a successful team at the midpoint (ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh...so nice to say), as buyers!
So let’s go shopping.
Oddly, my mind immediately jumped to our last game. With QB Carson Palmer getting injured and sitting at 3-4. the Arizona Cardinals are probably a little desperate right now. And that’s looking at things through a 2017 prism. Beyond this year, they’ve got Palmer, WR Larry Fitzgerald and a host of other aging vets to begin thinking about replacing. So perhaps they’re looking to stack up draft picks and sell off pricier stars that aren’t having as big an impact as intended...
And for me, I don’t know that there’s a starting unit that needs improvement more than the edge pass rush. The Rams are using the blitz well and we’ve racked up coverage sacks aplenty, but the combination of OLB Robert Quinn and OLB Connor Barwin isn’t doing it for me. I’m going to try to use the bye week time to look at the All-22 and see if we can identify something more poignant, because the baseline sacks just aren’t compelling. And no, sacks aren’t a direct correlation of pass rush, but I’m struggling to defend the quality of the edge rush nonetheless.
How perfect then that the Cardinals are sitting on one hell of an edge rusher: 27-year old OLB Chandler Jones.
The Cardinals traded OL Jonathan Cooper and their 2016 NFL Draft second-round pick to the New England Patriots for Jones back in March of last year. He responded with an 11-sack campaign that led to an interim franchise tag before signing a five-year deal two weeks later. All he’s done since is rack up eight sacks this season logging at least one in every game except for the Cardinals’ Week 4 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers. Suffice to say, Jones is getting it done. Expectedly so.
Adding Jones would strengthen the Rams’ pass rush to an absurd degree. And it would lessen the reliance on the blitz to provide sufficient pressure on a consistent basis. That Arizona clearly thinks that in their hypothetical forced trade scenario that selling off defensive pieces is perhaps the easiest out, I don’t know that the negotiations wouldn’t be in our favor.
You’re forcing me to make a deal? I’m calling Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim to see how much it would cost to get Jones and working the price down from there.
What deal would you look to make if you were in charge of the Rams?