On Thursday afternoon, the Los Angeles Rams — Cam Akers drama came to a close. Akers returned to practice and addressed the media in the locker room. Head coach Sean McVay met with Akers and his team and reportedly had a good conversation. The question becomes, where do the two sides go from here?
The fact of the matter is, while neither side has shown animosity towards the other, there’s clearly an issue and they don’t see eye to eye. It got so bad that Akers has sat out the last two games, including a matchup against the San Francisco 49ers in which he likely would have been a huge help.
Ever since Akers first took a leave of absence for personal reasons, the Rams attempted to trade their second running back with no luck. Despite a report from Tom Pelissero that that the Rams turned down offers for Akers, that seems to be information that was leaked from Akers’ agent.
The #Rams turned down multiple offers for RB Cam Akers before Tuesday's trade deadline and now are working with Akers' agent in hopes he'll play for them again this season, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 2, 2022
Akers has been inactive the past two games for what the team called personal reasons.
The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue reported following the trade deadline,
“A person with knowledge of the Rams’ trade conversations who was not authorized to speak publicly said the Rams received no legitimate offers (i.e., no realistic offers) for Akers before the deadline.”
Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio also refuted the Pelissero report, saying,
“Akers wanted out, and he quite possibly still wants out. One league source scoffed at the report that the Rams “turned down” multiple trade offers for Akers. As the source explained it, it was the other way around, with the Rams desperately making proposals to other teams that consistently were rejected.”
It’s been a back-and fourth PR game and that doesn’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. Following the Pelissero report that likely came directly from Akers’ agent, the Rams responded with The Athletic report and Florio also refuted it with a league source.
McVay said on Wednesday that he had a good conversation with Akers and his agent. Akers spoke to the media in the locker room on Thursday. The Rams running back told the media that he never asked for a trade and never asked to sit out.
“Y’all wanna know. I wanna know the same thing. I don’t know what happened. I was prepared because I had to be. I don’t know where it came from or how it happened, but it don’t matter at this point. I’m here, I’m in-house, I’m back with the team so I’m happy...I never asked to not be part of the team. I never asked to not play. I never asked to not practice.”
Cam Akers spoke in locker room and says at no point did he ask Rams for a trade or release, glad to be back around the group. Says his conversation with McVay Wednesday was good for them both. Couple of guys chimed in, in passing, “his teammates are glad, too.”— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) November 3, 2022
This is where things stand. The Rams turned down multiple trades and then they didn’t. Cam Akers requested a trade and then he didn’t. Within the reporting each side seems to still be blaming or refuting the other for what has gone down.
It’s all very reminiscent of the Ben Simmons — Philadelphia 76ers situation that went down two years ago in the NBA. Simmons basically sat out the entire year until the team was finally able to trade him at the deadline.
The difference here is that the Rams were unable to offload Akers.
For a team sitting at 3-4 with their backs against the wall, this whole situation has become a distraction. For the last three weeks, it’s been all about “what’s going to happen with Cam Akers?” The Rams running game certainly has its issues and the Cam Akers saga hasn’t helped.
The fact of the matter is, Akers hasn’t been good enough this year to be a distraction. His three yards per carry and -0.98 rush yards over expected per attempt according to NFL Next Gen Stats rank dead last in the NFL.
It’s hard to see both the Rams and Akers being able to move on from this situation and act like nothing happened. Is Akers all of a sudden going to be a player that gets 20+ carries per game if he’s only averaging less than three yards per attempt? That’s a very inefficient way to call an offense.
One change that will be made is that Thomas Brown who is the tight ends coach and former running backs coach will be more involved in the run game. Ra’Shaad sample will continue to coach the running backs with Brown’s role expanding.
This week as Cam Akers returned to the team, Rams appear to have expanded some of the delegated responsibilities for assistant HC/TEs coach Thomas Brown. Brown's role will broaden past TEs and into run game while Ra'Shaad Samples is also coaching the position group.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) November 4, 2022
With Kyren Williams set to return, that’s also another player that the Rams would certainly like to get involved in the offense. Darrell Henderson has had good moments as well this season and will continue to play a role. Adding in Akers, that makes this a three-person backfield.
We’ll see how this situation unfolds over the rest of the year and if both sides are able to put the last two weeks behind them. However, it will certainly be something worth monitoring going forward.