The Los Angeles Rams shored up their running back position just weeks before the new NFL season, acquiring Sony Michel in a trade with the New England Patriots on Wednesday. The Rams surrendered a sixth-round draft pick in 2022 and a fourth-rounder in 2023 to complete the deal with the Pats.
Michel will provide much-needed depth to the Rams, who will be without Cam Akers for the entire 2021 season after the running back tore his right Achilles tendon before the start of training camp. Darrell Henderson Jr. has taken over as the Rams’ RB1 in Akers’ absence during the preseason. However, they were still lacking in terms of personnel and experience in the all-important running back position.
Michel provides much-needed experience for Rams
It didn’t help matters that a spate of injuries hit their running back crew during the preseason. Raymond Calais suffered a mid-foot fracture in the game against the Las Vegas Raiders and was placed on injured reserve. Henderson also sustained a mild thumb sprain during practice on Monday but did return on Tuesday, training with a cast protecting his left hand.
With the season opener fast approaching, the Los Angeles Rams decided to pull the trigger, acquiring a proven commodity in Michel. In his three years with the New England Patriots, Michel amassed a total of 2,292 rushing yards with 14 touchdowns in 28 starts. The Rams saw first-hand Michel’s talent as the fourth-year pro torched them for 94 yards and a score on 18 carries in New England’s 13-3 win over Los Angeles in Super Bowl LIII.
Trade between Rams and Patriots a win-win for both teams
The Rams targeted Michel knowing the Patriots had a surplus of running backs entering the new season. They went through training camp with six running backs, including Damien Harris, who took over Michel’s starting job last season and returning veteran James White. Also in the mix for a spot in New England’s 53-man roster were Rhamondre Stevenson, J.J. Taylor, and Brandon Bolden, a veteran core special teams player.
In the end, Bill Belichick decided to trade Michel, who was due to earn a base salary of $1.79 million in 2021, which is the final year of his contract. He played nine games last season after missing action due to a quadriceps injury, rushing for 449 yards, and a touchdown on 79 carries.
He is expected to play a key role in the Rams’ offense, with head coach Sean McVay preferring to have two running backs in his attack. According to Rams general manager Les Snead, they wanted Michel because of his experience, and they see him and Henderson having a complementary backfield in their offense.
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