With seven minutes left in Super Bowl LIII, Sean McVay watched as Sony Michel scored the game's only touchdown in the Rams' 13-3 loss to the Patriots. Michel, who rushed for 94 yards on 18 carries in that game, was traded from New England to Los Angeles on Wednesday morning. In acquiring Michel, the Rams sent the Patriots a fifth and a sixth-round pick that could convert to a fourth-round pick if the Rams receive a compensatory selection in that round.
The 31st player selected in the 2018 NFL Draft, Michel rushed for 2,292 yards (with a 4.3 yards per carry average) and 14 touchdowns during his first three seasons. He justified his draft stock in the 2018 playoffs, rushing for 336 yards and six touchdowns while averaging 4.7 yards per carry. Injuries have limited Michel's productivity, however, as he missed 10 games to injury during his time in New England. He ran for a career-low 449 yards last season after missing seven games
With school officially back in session, it's only right that we grade the trade between former Super Bowl foes, starting with the team that found a taker for their former first-round pick.
It isn't necessarily an embarrassment of riches, but the Patriots immense depth at running back ultimately made Michel expendable. Leading the charge is third-year veteran Damien Harris, who led the Patriots with 691 yards last season while averaging five yards per carry. The unit also includes rookie Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, Brandon Bolden and J.J. Taylor. Stevenson rumbled for 127 yards and two touchdowns in his preseason debut, while Taylor picked up 93 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries in New England's season preseason game. In two preseason games, Stevenson has rushed for 193 yards and four touchdowns on 22 carries, while Taylor has rushed for 103 yards and a score on 14 carries. In comparison, Michel carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards in what were his final two games in New England.
The trade of a former first-round pick for what could be a fourth-round pick doesn't typically result in a "A" grade. But in this situation, the Patriots were able to get value from a player who would have probably been third or even fourth on the depth chart, if he made the team at all. Furthermore, the Patriots received value from a position that is hard to trade, as running backs have a notoriously short shelf life. The trade probably won't be remembered by many outside of New England and Los Angeles, but it's just another example of the talent of Bill Belichick the general manager. The only potential loss here is depth if the Patriots suffer numerous injuries at the running back position.
.@Patriots trade RB Sony Michel to the @RamsNFL for 2 conditional late-round draft picks.— Sportskeeda Pro Football (@SKProFootball) August 25, 2021
The trade helps Rams replace RB Cam Akers.
Sony Michel scored the only TD in Super Bowl LIII against the Rams
(via @AdamSchefter, 📹 @NFL) pic.twitter.com/8rLbpGOU7s
This was a move the Rams needed to make. Cam Akers, last year's leading rusher, is out for the year after tearing his Achilles just before the start of training camp. Darrell Henderson, the Rams' second leading rusher in 2020, is currently day-to-day with a thumb injury. Henderson's injury occurred just after fellow running back Raymond Calais broke his foot in Saturday's preseason loss to the Raiders. These losses confirmed that the Rams need to bolster a rushing attack that was the league's 10th most productive unit in 2020.
In Michel, the Rams are getting a running back who has proven to be productive when healthy. During his final three games in New England, he rushed for 219 yards while averaging about 6.1 yards per carry. If Michel, the Rams were able to acquire a 26-year-old running back who has just 620 carries under his belt. Michel is also affordable, as he is entering the final year of his rookie contract. And while the Rams did have to deal two draft picks (for now) to acquire Michel, softening the blow is the fact that Los Angeles is expected to receive four compensatory picks in the 2022 draft. The big question is whether or not Michel can stay on the field while helping complement Matthew Stafford and the Rams' passing attack.
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