Patriots: Could Bill Belichick explore trade with Rams after Cam Akers injury?
By Jerry Trotta
The New England Patriots’ backfield will be something to keep an eye on during training camp, as Damien Harris and Sony Michel figure to battle it out for the starting job.
We’d like to think Harris, after the way he performed in Michel’s absence last season, should have the advantage in the competition.
However, the 2018 first-round pick showed real promise down the stretch and likely deserves a chance to reclaim the role.
Having said that, the Patriots declined Michel’s fifth-year option this offseason, indicating he’d need a breakout year to earn another contract with the franchise.
That speaks to the confidence the coaching staff has in Harris, which got us thinking: could the Patriots look to deal Michel before the regular season?
More specifically, could Michel be a fit with the Los Angeles Rams after they lost starting running back Cam Akers to a torn Achilles just a week before training camp?
Could the Patriots strike a trade with the Rams after Cam Akers’ injury?
Bill Belichick isn’t one to turn down a trade opportunity, especially if it means taking advantage of a team desperate to replace an injured starter. That’s precisely where the Rams lie after Akers, who logged the fourth-most rushing yards of any RB from Week 13 and through the playoffs in 2020, was lost for the season.
As things stand, the Rams, who claim to not be in the market for a replacement, have Darrell Henderson, Xavier Jones, Jake Funk and Raymond Calais, the latter three of whom are either undrafted or former seventh-round picks, on their depth chart.
Given the lack of experience behind Henderson, who isn’t a world-beater himself, the Rams should absolutely be in the market for a quality backup. Not only would Michel fit that bill, but he has starter experience and could handle splitting carries with Henderson.
Speaking of Henderson, an unspecified injury limited him during Los Angeles’ offseason program and it’s unclear if he’ll be at full strength for training camp. Could the former Memphis standout still be managing pain from the high-ankle sprain he suffered in Week 16?
You can’t rule it out, but that shouldn’t concern the Patriots. In fact, it should further incentivize Belichick to get Rams GM Les Snead on the phone … assuming he’s confident with an RB room of Harris, James White, Rhamondre Stevenson and Brandon Bolden.
Those four options should be more than enough. Not to mention, Michel has never cemented himself as the definitive starter in three years, so Belichick should be comfortable trading him, even if it means recouping just a mid-to-late-round draft pick in return.