In this week’s Monday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Rams and San Francisco 49ers, running back Cam Akers has the fourth-best odds of scoring a touchdown for any player on either team. According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Darrell Henderson has the eighth-best odds. But the player with the best odds to score, of course, is wide receiver Cooper Kupp and that is indicative of Sean McVay’s need to keep attacking opponents with his best weapon on offense.
Should the Rams be searching for a more potent weapon in the backfield though? That was the question posed to fans in this week’s SB Nation Reacts survey and while the answer was not resounding, there was a winner:
The Los Angeles Rams fan base has spoken and they want general manager Les Snead to trade for a running back, sooner rather than later. A small majority of those who voted on SB Nation Reacts polls (53% to be exact) believe adding another running back via trade this season would be a good move.
Los Angeles ranks 31st in rushing yards and 29th in yards per carry. Another disturbing statistic is the measly 72 rushing yards per game. With such a subpar rushing attack, the threat of play action pass—a staple of the Sean McVay offense—is near non-existent. As such, the Rams are 1.5-point underdogs to the 1-2 49ers this week, according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
4 Possible trade targets
There aren’t many running backs on the trade market—if any—that make a ton of sense for the Rams, but let’s consider a few for the sake of arguing.
The former Kansas City Chief and currently disgruntled Cleveland Browns back up running back has been the topic of conversation amongst all fan bases looking to improve their backfield. He possesses everything you want in a running back. Though he did miss nine games last season, Hunt’s 2020 campaign was an impressive one, racking up 841 yards on the ground, 304 yards receiving, and 11 total touchdowns.
The major roadblock, outside of the fact that it would be outright stupid for the Browns to trade him, as they are currently lead the AFC North and are primed to compete for a playoff spot, is his desire for a new contract. He’s not getting one from Snead. Feel free to prove me wrong, though.
The Las Vegas Raiders is going nowhere this season. They are one of only two teams who have yet to taste victory in 2022 and currently reside in the cellar of one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. Vegas also declined Jacobs fifth-year option, leaving his future with the franchise murky to say the least.
These are all reasons the talented 24-year old rusher could be moved by the Raiders’ front office, but it likely won’t be to the Rams. In my opinion, he wouldn’t drastically alter L.A.’s current predicament.
It seems crazy to think the Panthers would trade McCaffrey, but if a team is willing to listen to offers there is a chance, slim as it might be. Reports earlier this year stated Carolina was indeed listening to offers and even had a price they would find acceptable; a first round pick and a player with a low salary cap hit would have done the trick.
Asked if he’s confident he’ll play Sunday, Christian McCaffrey says he “feels great.” pic.twitter.com/O0N6AH8hJT— Joe Person (@josephperson) September 30, 2022
I’ve been looking for a reason to get rid of that pesky 2024 first round pick but McCaffrey isn’t it. First of all, the Panthers would likely expect a pick in 2023. Then, there’s his injury history. He’s missed 23 games between 2020 and 2021. How long do you think he would last behind the Rams O-line?
Christian McCaffrey every practice pic.twitter.com/pZoEQ7WhNW— Brent⚜️ (@BrentNOLA_) October 1, 2022
Oh, you thought we were done talking about the Browns running backs? Truth be told, Johnson is the most realistic possibility on this list. Cleveland likely wouldn’t demand a lot in return to make a trade work. Johnson has been inactive for two out of three games this season.
D’Ernest Johnson got SHIFTY pic.twitter.com/VShvTh6pjf— PFF CLE Browns (@PFF_Browns) December 26, 2021
He doesn’t have a big role with the Browns at this moment, but if either Nick Chubb or Hunt succumb to injury, that would change immediately. Johnson has proven he can carry the load, compiling 534 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns last season.
Every carry from D'Ernest Johnson's big game vs the Cowboys.— Everything Cleveland (@everythingcle_) October 6, 2020
While he is already 26 years old, Johnson would be a nice get for the right price, though the Browns are likely to keep him for the long haul if they are unable to keep Hunt beyond 2022.
Why none of these options would work
To be completely transparent, I don’t believe trading for a running will solve the issues in L.A.’s rushing attack. Games are won and lost in the trenches and right now that isn’t a position of strength for the Rams offense.
The offensive line has been neglected over the last few seasons, when it comes to high-end draft talent. The Rams haven’t used a first or second round draft pick on an offensive lineman since selecting Rob Havenstein in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He is now 30 years old and recently agreed to his third contract with the franchise and is now the second longest tenured Rams behind only Aaron Donald.
Trading for an offensive lineman this year is unlikely. Even if that were to happen, it is difficult to insert a lineman mid-season with no experience in the scheme, and expect great things to happen.
Hopefully, the unit can continue to gel and the play up front can improve. Ultimately, the success of the running backs currently on the roster, and to a larger extent the offense as a whole relies on the play of the big guys up front.
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