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Rams need to inquire on potential Panthers fire sale

Carolina has pieces that would help L.A. get back on track

New Orleans Saints v Carolina Panthers Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images

Let Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers be a “scouting trip” for the Los Angeles Rams. Not that they will need to learn much more about perhaps the one player who they could use the most right now: Right guard Austin Corbett.

But Corbett isn’t the only player on Carolina’s roster who might be of some help to the Rams right now. The Panthers fired Matt Rhule on Monday, they are 1-4, and will be starting fourth-string quarterback P.J. Walker against L.A. on Sunday. Carolina’s goal at this point has to be getting as high of a draft pick as possible and while I do not think the Panthers will trade the farm (the defense is pretty good already), there are players who serve no further purpose on the roster.

Could the Rams pluck a talent to help them right the ship before this month’s trade deadline?

G Austin Corbett

Will the Rams be able to do it: Probably not

Not that I know anything, but I was surprised that Brian Allen had a higher priority to the Rams than Corbett. L.A. is basically on their fourth string option with A.J. Jackson right now and it’s been a frustrating experience for Matthew Stafford to say the least. Could the Rams trade for Corbett?

I actually have to say that as beneficial as this would be, it is nearly impossible to pull off.

Corbett signed a three-year, $26.25 million deal with the Panthers and his base salary in 2022 is only $1 million. That kicks up to $7.8 million in 2023, plus a $1 million roster bonus. The Rams can’t afford that. They won’t pay that. So unless Carolina, for no reason, eats that salary somehow, I don’t think that Corbett is coming back to the Rams. Carolina is probably hopeful that they will have a good offensive line in 2023 to present to the quarterback who they draft.

RB Christian McCaffrey

Will the Rams be able to do it: Maybe

Unlike Corbett, McCaffrey could potentially be traded for a reasonably low draft pick and then released in 2023 without any dead money left on L.A.’s cap. The Panthers have no choice but to suffer a dead cap hit with McCaffrey in 2023-2025, but his salary isn’t guaranteed so the Rams would just be renting the player, same as they did for Sony Michel and Von Miller in 2022.

The only question is “What kind of a bidding war” will McCaffrey command at this point?

He has 72 carries for 324 yards, averaging 4.5 YPC, and has caught 26 passes for 188 yards. He is not the same player he was in 2019. He might not be as worn down as Todd Gurley in 2019-2020, but McCaffrey isn’t a game-changing option at the running back position anymore. He had 116 catches for 1,005 yards in 2019. He’s more on pace this season for 75 catches and about 600 yards. It sounds like a lot of catches, but hauling in a bunch of dumpoffs that don’t go very far, it’s not something that a team needs to pay for, you could do that with Malcolm Brown.

From what I’ve seen of McCaffrey, he doesn’t have the speed he once did. The Rams could trade for him, but the offer shouldn’t be more than a day three pick.

WR Robbie Anderson

WR D.J. Moore

WR Terrace Marshall

WR Laviska Shenault

Will the Rams be able do it: No to D.J. Moore, maybe to Anderson and Armstrong

First of all, Moore has a guaranteed $20 million salary in 2023. He’s out of the question.

Anderson comes extremely cheap, he would cost the Rams less than $1 million if acquired. Anderson is then due a $3 million roster bonus in 2023 and he probably won’t get that no matter where he lands. The 29-year-old leads Carolina with 206 yards, but has only caught 13 of 27 targets. Of course, Anderson might do better with a better quarterback and he seems to be a fair complementary piece to Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Van Jefferson.

Marshall and Shenault are essentially draft disappointments and not to be trusted, but a team could take a swing. Marshall caught four passes for 30 yards in Week 5, his first catches of the season. The 2021 second round pick had 138 yards as a rookie. Carolina acquired Shenault from Jacksonville before the season and he hasn’t done much.

DE Brian Burns

Will the Rams be able to do it: I highly doubt that

The 24-year-old pass rusher has four sacks, which is half of Carolina’s entire sack total this year. The Panthers exercised his fifth-year option, obviously, and their only goal should be a contract extension to retain one of their only really good players. The cost to acquire Burns probably comes in at more than a first round pick, so that would necessitate Les Snead to dip into 2024 and beyond. Does now seem like the best time for the Rams to do that?

I know this isn’t what any fan would want to hear, but the more likely players on the block will be far less interesting than Burns and defensive tackle Derrick Brown. Those two along with Jaycee Horn are the foundation of Carolina’s roster and what could potentially help them be a competitive team again in 2023 with a new head coach and quarterback.

DE Yetur Gross-Matos

DE Marquise Haynes

Will the Rams be able to do it: If they wanted to

These players are more realistic options. Gross-Matos, a second round pick in 2020, has only had six sacks over 31 career games. The former Penn State product went 38th overall but hasn’t developed into an NFL pass rusher. Could the Rams try to resuscitate his career like they once did for Dante Fowler?

Haynes was a fourth round pick in 2018. He had four sacks in 2020, three sacks in 2021, but no sacks in 2022. Both he and Gross-Matos would at least cost very little to test out, but would Carolina even bother trading them for a seventh round pick?

So who is the most intriguing and realistic trade option for the Rams via the Panthers?

Probably Robbie Anderson. I don’t think Anderson would fix all of L.A.’s offensive woes, but he needs a way out of Carolina and the Rams could use another weapon to push for consistent targets in the offense.