First of all, ye be cautioned: these are hopefully reasonable and unexciting names to consider. This is not going to be speculation about players on the level of Yannick Ngakoue or Calais Campbell, who’ve combined to be traded three times this year. These are players to mull over because they mostly do not cost much and shouldn’t be too difficult to pry away from their current clubs. Though I am writing from a place of ignorance on that account and can only make my best judgments.
My judgments would also be surprised if the LA Rams made a trade, which would eventually be off-set by how unsurprised I’ll be that Les Snead made a trade. Even one more exciting than the names below, in many cases.
So why would the Rams even need to dip into their already-depleted supply of 2021 and 2022 draft picks to add a linebacker? Maybe they don’t! There’s room for other positions to get their own articles too.
But right now Los Angeles features Aaron Donald as the NFL’s premier weapon against the quarterback but little else of danger in the front-seven in spite of the fact that they are tied for the third-most sacks in the league. Leonard Floyd has been fine, but injuries have hit Travin Howard, Ogbonnia Okoronkwo; Samson Ebukam has been underwhelming; Terrell Lewis,, Justin Hollins are only now getting their feet wet; Kenny Young has a limited ceiling by all accounts; Troy Reeder’s entire season of production came in one game.
Only Micah Kiser and Floyd maybe even belong as full time linebackers and the Rams are making the best that they can with the other two spots. Will one of these players — none of whom should carry a “high” price tag on the market — be available and of any help?
Ryan Anderson, OLB, Washington
Ian Rapoport says that Anderson, not veteran Ryan Kerrigan, is the player more likely to be dealt by Football Team. A second round pick in 2017 out of Alabama, Anderson’s never become a standout pass rusher but he had 44 tackles, nine QB hits, five forced fumbles and four sacks in 2019.
He was in on 50% of the snaps last year but sees the field about half as often in 2020 and has no sacks.
His salary should not be an issue to acquire and he will be a free agent next year. Anderson could probably be moved for a late day three pick.
Takkarist McKinley, DE, Falcons
ESPN reports that Atlanta is sitting McKinley on Thursday and that it could be related to keeping him healthy for a trade. McKinley, the 26th overall pick in 2017, had six QB hits and a sack in 43 snaps in Week 1 against the Seahawks. He has played in 42 snaps since (three games missed due to a groin injury) and has one QB hit, no sacks, no tackles for a loss. McKinley had 29 tackles, 13 QB hits, seven tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks in 14 games last season.
He hasn’t been special but no edge rusher in Atlanta can say that. Former Rams linebacker Dante Fowler has one sack and five QB hits in seven games. Grady Jarrett leads the team at 2.5. Another former first rounder, Charles Harris, has two with three QB hits.
Whitney Mercilus, OLB, Texans
Jacob Martin, OLB, Texans
If Houston is willing to move Mercilus, they’d be putting their second-most productive pass rusher on the market after J.J. Watt. Mercilus has three sacks this year and had 7.5 last season. The days of expecting Mercilus to become a perennial double digit sack player are over but the Texans’ season is over as far as playoffs are concerned.
Jacob Martin, acquired in the Jadeveon Clowney deal from the Seahawks in 2019, hasn’t been as productive as expected but is only 25 and potentially a better fit elsewhere.
Jordan Jenkins, OLB, Jets
Tarell Bashem, OLB, Jets
Jenkins had 15 sacks over the previous two seasons but couldn’t get a long-term contract on the open market and re-signed in New York for one year. That season isn’t going so well for the Jets or Jenkins. A third round pick in 2016, Jenkins had eight sacks, 13 QB hits and nine tackles for a loss last season.
Playing in 52% of the snaps, Jenkins is getting on the field just as often but only has three pressures and one sack through seven games. He’s not a full time player, even in New York, and that’s a concern for a team that might need a star linebacker. But for one that needs a situational linebacker, perhaps Jenkins is the best fit.
Tarell Bashem is essentially the same age and size as Jenkins but having a more productive season after failing to find his place with the Indianapolis Colts as a third rounder in 2017. This season with the Jets he has two sacks and seven QB hits and getting in on 55% of the plays.
Jenkins and Bashem are both owed less than a million dollars rest of season.
John Simon, OLB, Patriots
Not flashy, but Simon has been able to hang around with the Patriots defense the last few years and had his best campaign in 2019. I’m not sure what New England’s strategy is going to be for the rest of the season but perhaps Bill Belichick will enjoy the idea of better draft picks and he always likes to have more draft picks to get better.
He’s made a lot of trades too.
Simon has 23 tackles and one sack this season after putting up 44 and four last season.