The Rams are prepared to let Cam Akers go, two years after selecting him in the second round and just eight months after having him start in the Super Bowl. Due to his “philosophical and football-related disputes” with coach Sean McVay, the running back was a healthy scratch for Los Angeles’ Week 6 game against the Panthers on Sunday, and the team is currently evaluating trade offers for the former Florida State standout, according to NFL Media.
Akers has had a rocky start to his Rams career. He tore his Achilles before 2021 after surpassing 600 running yards in a supporting role as a rookie, but he recovered by Week 18 and played a significant part in the postseason. He averaged just 3 yards per run in an uneven role throughout Los Angeles’ first five games, and he was deactivated in Week 6 as the Rams improved to 3-3, contrary to expectations for a greater workload in 2022. He has a contract that extends through 2023, is still only 23 years old, and is only owed $1.9 million, so he should have a good market whether cut or dealt.
The following ten teams, listed from least likely to most probable, make sense as potential suitors:
3. Cardinals if released
Arizona’s offensive line is constantly in need of more balance, but James Conner, their starting running back, is virtually always injured, and with Darrel Williams also out, they are left with only third- and fourth-string alternatives behind Kyler Murray. Akers would give them the ability to go down three quickly and allow Conner to better protect himself.
Although Kyle Shanahan doesn’t need need great players to carry his active ground game, they might use some more talent now that Elijah Mitchell is out indefinitely after a poor performance from backup starter Jeff Wilson Jr. Akers is a starter who can jump right in and fill almost any role Shanahan needs. He will probably keep his job through 2023.
Pete Carroll enjoys a good running game more than anyone else, but with Rashaad Penny out for the season, they may use another insurance or complimentary option to go with rookie Kenneth Walker III, who is already proven to be a potent situational ball carrier. During Akers’ rookie season, the Rams’ pass game was overseen by offensive coordinator Shane Waldron.
After improving to 3-2-1, they can keep the playoffs in mind in some fashion. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines both have injuries, so they could really use some backfield depth. If/when Taylor returns to full health, Akers would almost definitely be limited to a few touches. There is no way Matt Ryan should be throwing the ball as frequently as he is.
Although Dalvin Cook won’t be giving up carries anytime soon, the backup Alexander Mattison will be a free agent following the season because of his injury history. Akers has links within the Vikings organization because offensive coordinator in 2020 Kevin O’Connell and offensive coordinator in Minnesota Wes Phillips are both former Rams assistants. The Vikings consider themselves to be contenders.
Joining a run-heavy team that appears to be headed for a serious run would be a good consolation prize for Eagles Akers, who wouldn’t be scratching his appetite for a huge workload in Philly, if such an itch exists. Despite having a strong offensive line and an outstanding running tandem in Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders, Nick Sirianni’s team is currently lacking a more potent back.
Despite D’Andre Swift’s skill, he hasn’t been able to maintain his health as the focal point of Detroit’s backfield. Dan Campbell’s club, though, is geared on establishing the run thanks to both its players and coaching staff. When Los Angeles selected Akers, assistant general manager Ray Agnew and director of college scouting Brad Holmes of the Lions were both working in the Rams’ front office.
Austin Ekeler is best used as a pass catcher, but Justin Herbert would be happy relying on him in their backfield. Additionally, Sony Michel, a late arrival and supplementary ball carrier, hasn’t offered them anything. When Akers first started his career, defensive coordinator for the Rams was coach Brandon Staley. How about sending Michel back through a player-for-player trade?
Because starting running back Cordarrelle Patterson is injured and the depth behind him is largely unproven, Arthur Smith’s team is deceptively competitive. Why wouldn’t they be prepared to take a chance on Akers as a model back who Marcus Mariota can feed given how heavily Smith relies on the ground game? Long-term, the shift might also be beneficial to them.
Few clubs are as in need of a spark on offense. Few teams are in a worse situation than this one at RB, where Javonte Williams, a tackle-breaking star, is out with an injury, and Melvin Gordon is not trusted to guard the rock. During Akers’ first two NFL seasons, defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero worked as a Rams assistant, so he has a personal stake in the success of his new AFC West squad.