Potential Scenarios For The Rams Before The Trade Deadline

Rams D
The Rams defense takes the field at SoFi stadium.

Potential Scenarios For The Rams Before The Trade Deadline

With a few small(ish) moves the Los Angeles Rams flung themselves headlong into the trade deadline rumor mill. Late last week they restructured Rob Havenstein’s contract and this week they traded starting inside linebacker Kenny Young. This has led many to speculate why the Rams seem to be scrambling to create cap space before November 2nd. 

Because Les Snead is who he is, these speculations have ranged from earth-shattering moves to small moves to patch up the wear and tear on a solid roster.

Here we will take a look at a few potential scenarios that Snead and the Rams brass are cooking up before the trade deadline. 

Go All-In On Xavien Howard

This seems very unlikely, but this would be the kind of move that would make this team nearly unbeatable on defense. That said they would have to give up a ton to simply make enough financial room to fit him under the cap. Snead’s favorite trade tender has been first-round picks, but as the whole world knows, the Rams won’t have those until sometime in 2085. Without those, it’s hard to imagine the Dolphins being particularly impressed with any of the players they would realistically offer up. Not that reality is the foundation of this trade scenario.

Xavien Howard hasn’t yet lived up to his fantastic 2020 season. But his assignment in LA wouldn’t be nearly as hard with Jalen Ramsey taking on the biggest and the baddest each team has to offer. 

And that is only one question surrounding Howard. He also spent a good chunk of time as one of the many disgruntled NFL cornerbacks.  He mostly calmed down when he was given more money. Would he be a problem for the Rams locker room? There are two reasons cornerbacks are unhappy; money and losing. The Dolphins solved the first, and the Rams will solve the second. 

In this near-reality scenario, what would be needed to make this trade work is an unprecedented NBA-style multi-team deal. And in the Snead tradition of blowing the top off things, don’t put something like this past him

Is it at all likely, no? Is it a tantalizing proposition? Absolutely! 

Trade for a Realistic Cornerback

This seems to be the scenario that makes the most sense. The team has lost two corners to an already lean position group. As well, on a whole the secondary has underperformed. They have struggled to stop explosive plays, which is what the defense is supposed to be built to do, and they have also struggled with fundamental tackling. 

Vernon Hargreaves

There are several candidates that the Rams could get from a tank sale. It seems like everyone on the Texans are up for grabs and Hargreaves could find a good home in Los Angeles. The former first-round pick was benched after week three and has only played sparingly since then even though he has performed better than the other outside corners on the team. He wasn’t consistently good as a starter this season, but the Texans are not exactly setting any of their players up to succeed this year. He may never live up to the expectation of an 11th overall pick. A first-rounder is expected to be the team’s top corner, which he is not. What he can show in LA is that he can be a roleplayer on a contending team. Furthermore, as mentioned before, one of the benefits of playing with Ramsey is you automatically look better than ever. 

Tavierre Thomas

Thomas is another Texan that could wind up a Ram. He became the starting nickel back when Hargraves was replaced on the outside. Thomas has improved game over game and had his best game against a fierce Arizona Cardinals passing game. He allowed one catch for one yard. Thomas has allowed only one big play on 99 snaps in coverage according to Pro Football Focus 

Keith Taylor

Other than tanking teams, desperate teams are another source of good value trades. The Carolina Panthers are one of those teams. They started 3-0 but then their offense sputtered and haven’t won since. They currently rank 30th in overall offensive DVOA. The Panthers are definitely looking for answers on the trade market to get the offense humming again. Where they are stacked is on defense and just so happen to have some good depth at cornerback. 

One Panther corner ripe for the picking is rookie Taylor. He is buried in the depth chart behind several good cornerbacks. He has been getting some playing time recently because of injuries, but Stephon Gilmore should be returning any minute. He has played very well earning the 45th highest coverage grade among cornerbacks from PFF of 69.3. As a rookie, he is definitely a work in progress. He has given up several big plays, but the potential is certainly there. The Rams do like underdeveloped youth, but it might be too deep into the season for that. It should also be noted that he has only missed one tackle out of 19 attempts. 

Trade for a Coverage Linebacker

Was the middle linebacking corps scant even before the Young trade? Yes. Have the Rams made it pretty clear that Ernest Jones is the starting Mike linebacker? Yes. Does this make anyone feel better about the depth at linebacker? Don’t answer that. It was rhetorical. 

The Rams have made this bet before. That is to say, they are betting lean position groups will stay healthy. They have lost those bets, i.e. this season’s secondary. And they have won those bets, i.e. this season’s offensive line, and last season’s middle linebackers. 

So with 10 games left and only three linebackers on the roster, this may be the biggest bet of this kind they have made. Also, if you weren’t worried enough: One is a rookie, one is tied for third in the league with nine missed tackles and only one is passable when in coverage.

[pickup_prop id=”14257″]

Malcolm Smith 

Hands down, the best candidate is Smith. Smith stepped into the starting role for the Cleveland Browns when Anthony Walker was injured. Since Walker’s return, he has played very limited snaps. Not to mention, he also has to share time in the box with rookie standout Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, one of the few linebackers better in coverage than Smith himself.

When he has gotten the playing time he excelled, especially in coverage. He currently has the 11th highest PFF coverage grade among all linebackers. In fact, when he has played more he has played better. In the three games, he has played 30 or more snaps he has held quarterbacks to a combined 66.9 NFL Passer Rating on nine targets. 

He has missed six tackles, which is high considering he has only logged 18 combined tackles, but 10 of those tackles resulted in defensive stops. 

Since Jones has been ordained the starter, Smith would only be used on obvious passing downs or to assist with heavy offensive sets. This would keep him from having to make the more difficult open-field tackles. Also, he has been a much better tackler in his previous nine seasons in the NFL. 

Much like the Rams, the Browns will use the trade deadline to shore up any perceived flaws as they compete for their division title. This will require them to reduce redundancies. With Walker back healthy and Owusu-Koramoah playing so well, Smith is a great candidate for them to find a trade partner. Not only that but he is currently on a sub-$1 million contract. There aren’t a lot of good coverage linebackers in the league that aren’t starters with monster deals. 

Rams D

The Rams defense takes the field at SoFi stadium.