Every year there are major injuries at the running back position, some of which occur before the season even begins. Well, this year is no different.
Running back is not a difficult position to find a replacement at if your starter goes down, but your depth is likely lacking after an injury. When Le’Veon Bell held out during the 2018 season, James Conner came in and softened the blow of not having Bell on the field. However, it is not comforting as a fan when your backups are now Stevan Ridley, Jaylen Samuels, and Trey Edmunds. Having Conner as the backup and Ridley as the third stringer would have been a much better scenario.
In fantasy football, it is a killer if you draft the starter that gets injured, but if you snagged their backup at a later point in the draft, you are feeling on top of the world. Sometimes, the backup may be available on the waiver wire and you are able to replace the injured starter you drafted, but if you cannot get to him in time, you just lost one of your only reliable running backs and have no way to replace him.
On Tuesday morning, it was reported that Rams running back Cam Akers suffered a ruptured achilles and could potentially miss the entire season. Backup running back Darrell Henderson, who was my highest rated running back in the 2019 NFL Draft, will now become the full-time starter.
Unfortunately, this injury leaves the Rams with very little depth. Running back Xavier Jones, a former undrafted free agent, seems to be the favorite for the backup job as of now, but he has not yet played an offensive snap in the NFL. Maryland rookie Jake Funk, who the Steelers reportedly had interest in before the draft, probably has the most upside of the bunch, but he struggled to stay healthy in college and is just a seventh round pick. After being released by the Buccaneers, 2020 seventh round pick Raymond Calais was signed by Los Angeles, but early indications point to him being used primarily on special teams. Otis Anderson is the only other running back currently on the roster, and he is only an undrafted free agent that was never the lead back during his time at UCF.
Whether it be via free agency or trading, the Rams are likely to add someone before the season, even if it is not a household name. After the way things ended with Todd Gurley in Los Angeles, a reunion seems unlikely. Le’Veon Bell is still on the market, and he would likely be an ideal fit for Sean McVay’s offense, but would a team with Super Bowl aspirations and improving chemistry want to bring in a guy that would bring as many distractions as Bell would? The Chiefs tried last year, and although he did not seem to be a major distraction during his time with the team, he was a shell of his former self on the field. He also burned down bridges on his way out, calling out Andy Reid for not giving him the playing time he had expected to get.
Perhaps a less controversial player that fits Sean McVay’s scheme is the way the Rams choose to go. In an article by Nathan Jahnke at Pro Football Focus, Steelers running back Benny Snell was mentioned as a potential trade target. Here is what Jahnke had to say about the potential move.
Benny Snell Jr. would be the biggest trade option for the Rams. He already appears to be the odd man out after Pittsburgh drafted Najee Harris. Snell has earned the 14th-best rushing grade on outside zone and man runs over the past three seasons at 79.0.
This is a very interesting suggestion. It is true that Snell is in danger of missing the roster, and if the Steelers could acquire a late round pick for him, it would be an excellent move by the Steelers front office.
However, the chances of the Rams biting seem iffy at best. Now, Geoffrey Benedict and K.T. Smith could elaborate on Snell’s running style in comparison to Sean McVay’s scheme much better than I could, but if we are going strictly off who would be the best complement to Darrell Henderson and who is the most attractive option for the Rams, a player such as James Robinson makes much more sense for the Rams. It is clear that Urban Meyer does not hold Robinson in as high esteem as the previous coaching staff, as they just spend a first round pick on Travis Etienne. Plus, Robinson would not likely be overly expensive to trade for, as the Rams would likely have to trade only a fourth or fifth round pick for Robinson. Trading for Snell would only cost a sixth or seventh round pick, but you are getting a much more productive back in Robinson.
Patriots running back Sony Michel is another player who could potentially be dealt or cut altogether. Damien Harris seems to be gaining steam as the top back in New England, and Michel cannot seem to avoid the injury bug. After the Texans added Mark Ingram and Philip Lindsay to the fold, David Johnson is another player who could be on the move.
Would Snell be a better fit for Sean McVay’s system than most of the options currently available in free agency? Possibly, but considering the other potential trade options and free agents that could be available after roster cutdowns, it would be a surprise if the Rams chose Benny Snell, especially when you consider that he himself could be cut and available for the taking in just a matter of weeks.
But what do you think of a potential Snell trade? Would you approve of such a move? Do you think there is any chance somebody offers anything of value for Snell’s services? Do you think Snell makes the 53-man roster in Pittsburgh? Be sure to light up the comment section with your thoughts on this topic and all things Pittsburgh Steelers!