The Cam Akers situation has escalated quickly. From starting the last two games to being held out of practice on Thursday for personal reasons to unofficially being on the trade block as of Sunday. It seems that Akers and Sean McVay have “philosophical differences” and that means that Akers and the Los Angeles Rams have differences.
Trading a running back seems relatively easy. But what about when that running back wants more opportunities? There are not many teams in the NFL ready to hand over their backfield to a new player midseason, especially when that player hasn’t produced a “wow” performance in almost two years.
Since tearing his Achilles right before 2021 training camp, Akers has played in 10 games, including postseason, and carried the ball 123 times for 326 yards, scoring one touchdown and fumbling it three times. Teams can’t be assured that he will ever rebound to pre-injury status and even if he did, Akers had yet to truly “prove himself” as a running back during his rookie season. It took him a while to be established as the number one back and a lot of his production stems from a single 171-yard performance against the Patriots.
Questions still persist of pass protection, trusting his offensive line, catching the ball out of the backfield, and protecting the football. That doesn’t include this current status of not being on the same philosophical page as the head coach, one who has planted a lot of roots around the league thanks to the Rams success since 2017. It could be a little harder to trade Akers than most “starting” running backs but with a day three pick, it seems like it could be done. And done soon.
The type of team that would want to trade for Akers would probably be a team that:
- Has a need at RB
- Believes they’re competing for the playoffs
- Has a strong OL
Finances and cap space should not be an issue. Akers is an inexpensive player who is signed through 2023.
Why: Brad Holmes knows him well
Any time you’re talking about Les Snead making a trade, the Lions should be considered as potential partner. Old friend Brad Holmes could even get first dibs, depending on the player. The Lions do not appear to be competing for the playoffs, but their running back depth has already been tested in 2022 with D’Andre Swift missing the last two games. In Detroit, Akers would have the best run-blocking offensive line of his career, NFL or college. With a two-year vision, Holmes could see Akers as a part of the Lions rebuild.
Why: Replace Sony Michel
Brandon Staley hasn’t been shy about poaching players he worked with on the Rams, signing Gerald Everett and Sebastian Joseph-Day and Troy Reeder and Morgan Fox this year. Staley didn’t work with Sony Michel with the Rams, but he is now and the result isn’t fantastic. Michel has 23 carries for 58 yards. There’s been talk of the Rams reuniting with Michel to help the run game, would the two L.A. teams consider swapping backs?
One potential roadblock would be convincing the Chargers that Akers would accept a role there. If he doesn’t like how he’s being used by Sean McVay, will he like a room with Austin Ekeler, Joshua Kelley, and fourth round rookie Isaiah Spiller?
Why: Javonte Williams injury
The Broncos are without their top back for the rest of the season and Melvin Gordon has already fumbled four times in five games. Akers has a fumbling issue to work through as well. But Denver’s season is coming close to a close already if they don’t turn things around soon.
Why: Jonathan Taylor injury
The trade for Matt Ryan implies that the Colts are indeed looking to build positive momentum this season, but they’ve mostly looked awful en route to their 2-2-1 record. Somehow they’ve beaten the Chiefs and Broncos to get to this point despite being 32nd on offense. Indianapolis is without both Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines this week, so adding another running back could help them for the long haul of the season in a weak AFC South division. Could Akers co-exist with Taylor and Hines?
Why: Damien Harris injury
Again the roadblock here is that with a healthy room, Akers would find himself buried on the depth chart. However, Damien Harris is dealing with a hamstring issue and those can linger for weeks, if not months. Rhamondre Stevenson is the unquestioned number one back when Harris is out and they are a powerful duo when together. The Patriots and Rams made a RB trade a year ago with Michel, would L.A. be ready to send one back to New England?
Why: Reunite with Kevin O’Connell, meet up Dalvin Cook
Being a highly-touted running back recruit at Florida State, Akers couldn’t escape comparisons to Dalvin Cook. Could he join forces with Cook? The Vikings don’t appear to have a RB need yet, but Cook has missed at least two games in each of his five previous seasons, including four last year. Backup Alexander Mattison is fine, not great. O’Connell may or may not be a fan of Akers, but Akers had most of his success at the end of his rookie season in 2020, the first for O’Connell as L.A.’s OC.