Two years after drafting him in the second round, and just eight months after starting him in the Super Bowl, the Rams are prepared to part ways with Cam Akers. The running back was a healthy scratch for Los Angeles' Week 6 game against the Panthers on Sunday, and the team is actively fielding trade offers for the former Florida State standout, per NFL Media, amid his "philosophical and football-related differences" with coach Sean McVay.
Akers' young Rams career has been one of mixed results. After topping 600 rushing yards in a secondary role as a rookie, he tore his Achilles prior to 2021, only to return by Week 18 and serve a prominent role in the postseason. Despite expectations of a larger workload in 2022, he averaged just 3 yards per carry in an inconsistent role during L.A.'s first five games, then was inactive in Week 6 as the Rams improved to 3-3. Still just 23, however, due only $1.9 million on a contract that runs through 2023, he should have a decent market whether cut or dealt.
Here are 10 teams that make sense as suitors ranked from least likely to most likely:
Arizona is perpetually in need of more balance offensively, but James Conner is almost perpetually banged up as their RB1, and with Darrel Williams also sidelined, they're down to third- and fourth-string options behind Kyler Murray. Akers would instantly give them three-down potential and permit Conner to preserve himself better.
Kyle Shanahan doesn't necessarily need big names to power his busy ground game, but fresh off a dud from fill-in starter Jeff Wilson Jr., they could stand to add talent with Elijah Mitchell sidelined indefinitely. Akers is a plug-and-play starter who could fill just about any role Shanahan requires, and likely retain the job into 2023.
No one likes a good run game like Pete Carroll, but with Rashaad Penny out for the year, they could use another insurance/complementary option alongside rookie Kenneth Walker III, who's already proving explosive as a situational ball-carrier. Offensive coordinator Shane Waldron was the Rams' pass game coordinator during Akers' rookie year.
Somehow, some way, they can keep the playoffs in mind after improving to 3-2-1. They could also badly use backfield depth with Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines both banged up, though Akers would almost certainly be limited to a handful of touches if/when Taylor is at full strength. Matt Ryan cannot be throwing it as often as he is; maybe this would help.
Dalvin Cook isn't gonna be surrendering carries anytime soon, but he's got an injury history, and backup Alexander Mattison will be a free agent after the year. The Vikings think of themselves as contenders, and Akers has internal connections: coach Kevin O'Connell was his offensive coordinator in 2020, and Minnesota OC Wes Phillips is also a former Rams assistant.
Akers wouldn't be satisfying his itch for a heavy workload in Philly, if such an itch exists, but a good consolation prize would be joining a run-heavy team that looks poised for a real run. Jalen Hurts and Miles Sanders are an elite rushing duo behind their sturdy offensive line, but the one thing Nick Sirianni's club lacks right now is more of a power back.
For all D'Andre Swift's talent, he's yet to stay healthy headlining Detroit's backfield, and Dan Campbell's team is built to establish the run, thanks to both its personnel and coaching staff. Lions general manager Brad Holmes was the Rams' director of college scouting when Los Angeles drafted Akers, and assistant GM Ray Agnew was also in the Rams' front office at the time.
Justin Herbert would be just fine leaning on Austin Ekeler in their backfield, but the latter is best deployed as a pass catcher anyway. Plus, they haven't gotten much from late addition Sony Michel as a secondary ball-carrier. Coach Brandon Staley was the Rams' defensive coordinator when Akers began his career. How about a player-for-player swap to send Michel back?
Arthur Smith's squad is sneakily competitive, starting RB Cordarrelle Patterson is hurt, and the depth behind him is mostly unproven. With how much Smith leans on the ground game, why wouldn't they be willing to take a gamble on Akers as a prototypical back that Marcus Mariota can feed? The move could help them long-term, too.
Few teams are as desperate for an offensive spark. Few teams are in a more dire state at RB, where they lost tackle-breaking standout Javonte Williams to injury and don't trust Melvin Gordon to protect the rock. Defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero was a Rams assistant during Akers' first two NFL seasons, and he's got reason to put good word in for his new team in the AFC West.