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Rams should sell at NFL trade deadline

At 3-5 and going in the wrong direction, the L.A. Rams have to prioritize the future

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Dallas Cowboys Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Rams fell to 3-5 following a loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but more important than their record is the manner in which the team has lost five of seven since a Week 1 win. The Rams lost 43-20 in Week 8’s loss to the Cowboys, a team that had been 0-2 against the NFC West after losing to the Arizona Cardinals and being blown out by the San Francisco 49ers, and they pulled quarterback Matthew Stafford due to a myriad of injuries.

Last week, we asked fans if the Rams should “sell” at Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline if they had lost to the Cowboys this week but now the question has more context: The Rams were blown out, they had to play Brett Rypien for an extended period of time, the defense gave up 4 touchdowns to Dak Prescott and 158 receiving yards to CeeDee Lamb, the special teams coverage had a ton of issues including a block and a long return, and L.A. hasn’t played as well as Sean McVay hoped after beating the Seahawks almost two months ago.

The L.A. Rams should be focused on how to be a better team in the long-term future, not the near-term future and that means that general manager Les Snead should be open to taking calls on any “veteran” player in the next 48 hours.

The only two wins by the team since Week 2 have been an overtime win against Anthony Richardson’s Colts and a victory against the Josh Dobbs Cardinals. There is a winnable game next week against the struggling Green Bay Packers, another team that should sell at the deadline, but what exactly is the highest expectation for L.A. at this point? That they win 8 or 9 games and sneak into the playoffs if everything breaks right?

If there’s an offer on the table for a player who would bring back a draft pick and any cap relif—or even a draft pick and no cap space—that’s something that Snead and company have to consider for everybody.

Will these players be available?

QB Matthew Stafford

The Vikings believe that Kirk Cousins has a torn Achilles, ending his season. Would the Vikings be interested in reuniting Stafford and Kevin O’Connell, a pair that won a Super Bowl together?

The Vikings won their third game in a row, beating the Green Bay Packers on Sunday, so they’re 4-4 and eyeing the playoffs again. Cousins is a free agent after the season, so there’s no real consideration of how a move impacts future cap space.

The biggest question is of course if the Rams are willing to move Stafford, but the next-biggest is if Stafford is even healthy enough to replace Cousins.

The Rams owe Stafford money, but a trade is financially possible. He has a $31 million guaranteed salary in 2024, so it would also help L.A.’s future cap space a lot to trade Stafford before then. What would they need in return? Probably not a lot, IF they are indeed focused on the future, which is of course not confirmed.

Trading Stafford is purely speculative but we got a glimpse on Sunday of what the team would look like with Brett Rypien and whether that’s bad or really bad—it could happen to the Rams even if they don’t trade Stafford. How much longer will he be able to hold up and how many more starts will he want to make in L.A. if the team is eliminated from the playoffs?

DT Aaron Donald

He’s the player everyone wants and probably not the one who the Rams want to trade. Donald had two early sacks in the game but not much good happened for L.A.’s defense after that. As much as Rams fans can’t imagine the team without Donald, the exact same was the case for the Broncos and Von Miller when he was traded to L.A. for second and third round picks en route to the Super Bowl.

Anything is possible and Donald’s contract is moveable at the deadline. Are the Rams willing to talk about him to other teams though?

WR Cooper Kupp

The domino effect in 2022 was that Stafford went down, Kupp went down, Donald went the Rams want to repeat history? The emergence of Puka Nacua gives L.A. a young receiver to build around. Kupp, who had 21 yards on four catches and 10 targets this week, would probably bring back the most in draft capital and there is no shortage of teams that would love to add a receiver before the playoffs.

Those are the big 3 everyone will ask about, but as written before, there are other possibilities: TE Brycen Hopkins, OT Joe Noteboom, FS Jordan Fuller, but also CB Ahkello Witherspoon is someone who would probably get some interest.

The Rams might not be able to trade anyone at the deadline. But they should try.