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Several Los Angeles Rams trades among the most impactful this season

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ESPN’s Bill Barnwell graded and ranked the 30 most impactful NFL trades this season. The Rams were a party to six of those trades.

NFC Championship - Los Angeles Rams v New Orleans Saints
The Los Angeles Rams traded a first and sixth-round pick to the New England Patriots for WR Brandin Cooks.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

As one of only two teams still playing football in February, the prior offseason for the Los Angeles Rams seems so distant. It feels like a lifetime ago that guys like Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn were wearing the horns, while Aqib Talib was out in the AFC West, snatching chains from receivers bold enough to wear them. But this offseason was a busy period of time for the Rams, who at various points seemed to be tied to every big name on the trading block. So it’s not surprise that the Rams were featured heavily in Bill Barnwell’s 30 Most Impactful Trades during this last year.

29. Giants get linebacker help Rams trade: LB Alec Ogletree, 2019 seventh-round pick Giants trade: 4-135, 6-176 The Rams helped make space for their offseason acquisitions by trading Ogletree to the Giants, who have needed help at inside linebacker seemingly since Antonio Pierce left after the 2009 season. The Georgia product didn’t dramatically propel the Giants’ defense forward -- it ranked 24th in defensive DVOA for the second consecutive season -- but he did rack up two short pick-sixes, which is fun. Impact grade: D+

26. Dolphins acquire a defensive end Rams trade: DE Robert Quinn, 6-209 Dolphins trade: 4-111, 6-183 The Rams essentially shipped off their former Defensive Player of the Year candidate for cap space, as Los Angeles ended up using the $10.3 million it saved by trading Quinn as part of the package to entice Ndamukong Suh to town. The Dolphins, who cut Suh, clearly saw themselves emulating the Eagles by building a deep rotation of edge rushers. It didn’t go well. William Hayes tore his ACL; 2017 first-rounder Charles Harris missed a month with a calf injury and finished with one sack; Andre Branch continued to underwhelm after signing an inexplicable extension before 2017; and 36-year-old Cameron Wake slowed down some amid a knee scope. Quinn had just one sack in the first half of the season before racking up 5.5 takedowns over a six-week span afterward. He could be on the move again this offseason. Impact grade: C-

The first two trades featuring the Rams don’t exactly move the needle much, other than creating cap space. Quinn and Ogletree were once seen as defensive leaders, but had more recently become scapegoats for an underperforming unit. As mentioned above, these deals opened enough space for the Rams to land DT Ndamukong Suh.

20. Rams acquire a veteran corner Broncos trade: CB Aqib Talib Rams trade: 5-160 This trade would rank much higher if Talib had stayed healthy; the Rams allowed a passer rating of just 69.0 with Talib on the field, but when the veteran corner was taking a breather or sidelined by a midseason ankle injury, Wade Phillips’ defense allowed a passer rating of 108.6. Roughly, the Rams were the Bears with Talib on the field and the Bengals with Talib unavailable, but the Kansas product missed more than 63 percent of dropbacks. You get the feeling this figure might rise if we were including the Super Bowl to come. Impact grade: C+

19. Rams get midseason edge-rush help Jaguars trade: OLB/DE Dante Fowler Jr.Rams trade: 2019 third-round pick Like Tate, Fowler didn’t make much of an impact during the regular season, as the former third overall pick picked up only two sacks and five knockdowns in eight games for L.A. And like Tate, Fowler came up with a huge play in the postseason when he hit Drew Brees in overtime of the NFC Championship Game, forcing an interception that eventually set up the game-winning field goal from Greg Zuerlein. The difference, of course, is that Tate’s play pushed the Eagles to only the divisional round, while Fowler’s sack helped send the Rams to the Super Bowl. Fowler has 1.5 sacks in two postseason games, and if he has a big night against the Patriots on Sunday, the 24-year-old is likely going to collect more money than you might think in free agency this offseason. The Rams would probably have to bow out of that bidding and settle for draft-pick compensation, just like the Eagles will with Tate. Impact grade: C+

13. Rams get an All-Pro cornerbackChiefs trade: CB Marcus Peters, 6-209 Rams trade: 4-124, 2019 second-round pick Few teams are interested in trading an All-Pro at a key position as he turns 25, but the Chiefs seemed adamant about dealing Peters after an up-and-down 2017 season. Kansas City’s cornerbacks were a mess before dealing Peters and continued to give Bob Sutton’s defense fits in 2018, but the Rams didn’t get the sort of shutdown play they were hoping for from their new addition. Peters picked off three passes and took one to the house, but he was badly torched by top receivers and struggled with Aqib Talib out of the lineup. Peters remains enigmatic; he could pick off Tom Brady twice on Sunday and win Super Bowl MVP, or he could just as easily be the target of the Patriots’ offense. It remains to be seen whether the Rams will sign him to an extension this offseason. Impact grade: B-

The Rams had plenty of key departures on defense, such as the aforementioned Quinn and Ogletree, as well as CB Trumaine Johnson. The acquisitions of Talib and Peters bolstered a secondary that otherwise may have been led by the likes of Troy Hill. Fowler was a much needed midseason move to help solidify the pass rush. He’s managed 29 pressures in 10 games and has 1.5 sacks during the playoffs.

4. Rams add another weapon for Jared GoffRams trade: 1-23, 6-198 Patriots trade: WR Brandin Cooks, 4-136 Speaking of brilliant moves from Belichick, I wrote in April about how the Patriots coach rented a year of Cooks for what amounted to $1.9 million and a sixth-round pick. The Patriots sent a first-rounder to the Saints for Cooks and then got a first-round pick back from the Rams, who signed Cooks to a five-year, $81 million extension after the trade. The remarkably consistent Cooks delivered another high-production season. Over the past four seasons, Cooks has played all 16 games and has been targeted between 7.1 and 8.1 times per game. He has caught between 4.0 and 5.1 passes per game, racking up 67.6 yards to 75.3 yards per game on those throws. His touchdowns have fallen in four consecutive seasons from nine down to five, but given the Rams’ emphasis on running in short-yardage situations, that shouldn’t be a surprise. The Rams are paying Cooks like a superstar, and he hasn’t yet had that dominant campaign as a pro, but the Oregon State product continued to show a dramatically high floor in 2018 and doesn’t turn 26 until September.

The Rams’ most impactful trade, according to Barnwell, is the one that involves their Super Bowl opponent. While the Rams may have wanted to hold on to Sammy Watkins, they found a much more appealing option in Cooks. The later stages of the playoffs have been a bit of a revenge tour for Cooks, who had spent his last two seasons with the Saints and Patriots, respectively. But a big extension in the offseason will ensure that “The Archer” will be firing his arrows for the City of Angels for years to come.