The NFL trade deadline is on October 31st, giving teams one more game to decide if they want to be buyers or sellers on Tuesday. Previously we talked about whether the Rams should become sellers if they lose to the Cowboys this week, mentioning 3 players who make the most sense to trade.
What if the Rams win though? Should they be buyers?
The Athletic’s Dianna Russini said that there are teams essentially deciding what direction they’ll go in after Week 8’s games. One of those teams that has a few days to decide their fate is the Los Angeles Rams, now 3-4 following a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers and sitting right on that edge of maybe not fully accepting or realizing who they are.
If the Rams this week, they’ll be 4-4 with wins over two potential NFC wild card teams in the Seahawks and Cowboys. With a struggling Packers team on deck after Dallas, it would not be out of the realm of possibility for L.A. to be 5-4 headed into their bye week, giving the Rams an opportunity to be their best selves in November and December.
Adding an edge rusher or a cornerback or a linebacker or an offensive lineman or a running back...there are many moves that would make sense at this juncture.
It’s difficult to imagine that the Rams would get a quality left tackle in the middle of the season, but edge players have not been that difficult to come by recently: The 49ers added Randy Gregory and the Seahawks added Frank Clark (both previously of the Broncos) for basically nothing. Those players may or may not be of high quality at this stage of their careers, but San Francisco and Seattle didn’t give up anything of value to acquire them and find out.
The Rams should try and give Aaron Donald some help in the front-seven and though they don’t have many resources left over, they could be trying.
If the Rams beat the Cowboys then at 4-4 with the Packers on deck, a run at the NFC wild card is a legitimate possibility. What if L.A. wins their next two games, comes out of the bye week feeling healthy, and sweeps Seattle in their 2023 rematch? They would be 7-4.
That’s the same record that they had after 11 games in 2021.
The next game after that one is against the Arizona Cardinals, followed by one of the worst offenses but best defenses in the NFL, the Cleveland Browns. What if the Rams were 6-5 after 11 games and 7-6 after 13 games? Or 8-5?
There are late games remaining against the Giants, Saints, and Commanders. Suddenly, 10-7 doesn’t seem that far out of reach, so buying with what resources L.A. can spare could make sense for Les Snead.
Why hold firm
Sean McVay and Les Snead have already made it well known that the Rams aren’t in the same position they were two years ago when the team traded for Von Miller and picked up Odell Beckham, Jr.. Standing firm is not only the necessary move, it’s the right one.
Even if the Rams do sneak into the playoffs at 9-8 or something, it’s not likely to be a long stay. That’s great to win as many games as they possibly can, but L.A. should not sacrifice resources to try and win a single wild card game and they probably don’t have the personnel this season to make a deep run in the postseason. Even if they were close, then let this be the roster that attempts to make it: Adding one player at the deadline won’t change the Rams’ fate.
Right now, L.A. has about $4-5 million in cap space according to OvertheCap.com, which doesn’t give the Rams very much wiggle room to add a player. There are a lot of relatively cheap players out there, veterans making $1-$2 million in base salary, who the Rams could probably afford.
But should the Rams give up a first round pick? No. Should the Rams give up a second round pick? No. Should the Rams give up a third round pick? Still no.
The Rams should not trade any valuable draft picks and should instead be bargain shopping. Instead of going for Brian Burns, the Rams should be asking the Titans about Arden Key. The 27-year-old edge rusher costs barely anything the next two years and would be a safer play than someone who would force them to dip into their valuable draft picks and 2024 cap space like Burns.
Overall, the Rams knew who they were when they traded Jalen Ramsey and they knew who they were when they traded Van Jefferson and all the moves in between to get younger, cheaper, and more experimental. They won’t change who they are midseason and if they beat the Cowboys this week, maybe they’re better than we thought they were already.