It’s no secret that the Rams would stand to benefit from adding draft picks and shedding salary, and that’s why rumors involving current players on the team being dealt should be unsurprising. On Monday, Albert Breer of SI’s MMQB reported that the Rams have had discussions or at least answered phone calls regarding both Michael Brockers and Robert Woods.
Some points to be made:
- For any of us who haven’t been general managers, how should we know how often names are brought up in trades? This year, we’ve heard Russell Wilson and Deshaun Watson named in more than just rumors about trade discussions. Aaron Donald could get brought up in trade talks every year for all we know, even if it is improbable that anything would have ever happened. Getting your name mentioned may not mean much.
- Trading Woods carries a much greater return than trading Brockers. However, it also leaves a much more significant hole on the roster that LA would need to fill; you don’t trade for Matthew Stafford and then take away all his toys. That’s like adopting a kid and ... taking away all his toys. That being said, what if the Rams had a big picture, “blockbuster” domino in mind that would reunite Stafford with Kenny Golladay? Or a swing-at-the-fences move for Allen Robinson? In a vacuum, it seems like a move that would only be made to save money and add draft picks. However, what if instead it is a risk that they believe leads to both an upgrade at receiver and an additional draft pick or player?
- Trading Woods frees up $11.9 million in 2021 cap space and doesn’t leave behind a trail of dead money in future years.
- In four offseasons together, Les Snead and Sean McVay have traded for Sammy Watkins, signed Robert Woods, drafted Cooper Kupp, traded for Brandin Cooks, traded away Brandin Cooks, and drafted Van Jefferson. Are we really going to toss out the idea that the Rams would make a significant change at receiver?
- I tossed out the idea a year ago of the Rams trading Woods and instead they extended him. But it turns out to be a rather hollow extension since the team can already deal him with little consequence. And 2020 was the third successive year in which Woods saw a decline in receiving yards, yards per catch, yards per target, average depth of target, and first downs. Woods had 44 first downs on 129 targets last season, as compared to 54 on 139 in 2019 and 74 on 130 in 2018. He also had four drops in both 2019 and 2020, as compared to two drops in 2018. This has to be partly attributed to the declining relationship between Jared Goff and the coaching staff, but Woods is only one year shy of 30.
- I think Robert Woods is a treasure wrapped inside of a gold unicorn and the trade for Stafford could lead to a career-year for him in 2021 — in case you were starting to think that I was only here to spread a message that Robert Woods is declining. I have no idea if that is true. In team sports, you simply have to be willing to evaluate every year if “now” is the right time to make a business decision.
- LA received a late second round pick for Brandin Cooks last year, when he was two years younger than Woods but also showing concerning signs of physically slowing down. Cooks finished with 81 catches for 1,150 yards for the Texans. The Rams, who don’t pick until 57, might be able to recoup a second and head into day two with pretty much the same draft capital that they had on day two last year: two seconds, two thirds.
- For the curious, trading Cooper Kupp saves $10 million, but it carries $4.5 million in dead money this season, $3 million in 2022, and $1.5 million in 2023. Trading Woods only carries $1.9 million in dead money in 2021, then several hundred thousand dollars more down the line.
- If the Rams trade anybody, it would almost certainly be coming in the next week — there are guarantees kicking in soon for all the important names mentioned here.
- Trading Michael Brockers would save $6.1 million in 2021, with $3.6 million in dead money. That should leave $1.8 million in dead money in 2022 also. If the Rams opted to move Brockers, I think it would have to be a cost-cutting move and signals that they were probably going to release him if they couldn’t find a partner. Because I can’t see a team giving up more than a fifth for him, but these returns are terribly difficult to predict.
- However, trading Brockers doesn’t create the same hole on the roster that trading a receiver would do since LA seems to have good depth along the defensive line. And by “good depth” I mean that if you look into Aaron Donald’s eyes, you’ll get lost forever and then there’s Troy Reeder getting to your quarterback.
- My prediction: The Rams will get their salary cap under control by restructuring several of their biggest contracts. That shouldn’t be a huge issue for them. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t think that LA will make another significant trade or a painful cut.
The Rams missed out on the receivers in the 2019 draft class, instead picking Taylor Rapp over a group that included DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson, and Terry McLaurin. And I don’t mean “barely” either; those players went shortly after Rapp, as did Andy Isabella and Jalen Hurd.
Then, the Rams took Van Jefferson out of a phenomenal 2020 draft class, but he was immediately surpassed in perceived value by a number of receivers taken after him, including Darnell Mooney, Gabe Davis, and Denzel Mims. LA also barely missed out on Chase Claypool and Laviska Shenault. It doesn’t mean that Jefferson can’t catch up or even surpass some of these players as his career continues, but heading into the 2021 draft, how can Snead and McVay not be feeling “FOMO” for the last two receiver classes?
This year’s class will again deliver a deep class of receiving talent and the odds of finding the next Woods or Kupp on day two should only increase given the things are setting up: no pro days, few, if any chances to meet prospects in person, a difficult road of medicals to travel, and many players who opted out for 2020.
The Rams lack draft capital though, so trading players away at this stage — if they can find a partner, which is rarely an issue for Snead — might be the only way to restock the future.
Snead may not make any more notable trades of players. But he wouldn’t be doing his job if he wasn’t on the phone with GMs and assessing the value of what he’s capable of doing.