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Did Rams Win or Lose The Sony Michel Trade?

Looking back at the deal now, are the Los Angeles Rams walking away a winner in the Sony Michel deal?

Sony Michel is a notable name that Los Angeles Rams' fans should remember. 

With seven minute remaining in Super Bowl LIII, the then-rookie running back darted up the middle for a 2-yard touchdown, breaking the then-tie to give the New England Patriots the lead. 

Maybe New England is returning the favor to Los Angeles for helping them win a sixth Lombardi Trophy? 

The Patriots agreed to terms to send Michel to the Rams in exchange for two late-round draft picks. According to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport, the two selections are just a placeholder for a fourth-round pick if Los Angeles receives a compensatory selection in that round. 

The team is expected to bring in a compensation pick following the departure of safety John Johnson III this offseason in free agency. 

Everyone is always looking for winners and losers after every trade. The question now is, did the Rams walk away a winner with Michel on their roster? 

Although his play declined in 2020, Michel has been a stable runner since being drafted out of Georgia. The 26-year-old has rushed for 2,292 yards (with a 4.3 yards per carry average) and 14 touchdowns during his first three seasons. In 2019, he put himself on the map, recording a career-best in carries (247) and rushing touchdowns (seven). 

Los Angeles needed to find stability in the backfield entering Week 1. After a notable scare due to Darrell Henderson’s minor thumb injury during Tuesday's practice and second-year standout Cam Akers suffering a torn Achilles, the Rams opted to add a reinforcement in Michel.

Despite the encouraging progress from running back Xavier Jones and rookie Jake Funk, starting one of them against the Bears' front seven in Week 1 is a risk if Henderson would not be able to suit up. If Henderson's injury does indeed linger, that gives the three other teams in the gauntlet of the NFC West an advantage until his return. 

The Rams also waived Raymond Calais, who suffered a foot injury against the Las Vegas Raiders on Saturday evening. Combined, those three made up the majority of carries for the 10th-ranked rushing attack in 2020. 

Michel is an ideal fit to replace Akers. His game is similar to the that of the rookie sensation from last season, and the two mirror nearly in size (Michel 5-11', 215 lbs/Akers 5-10', 217 lbs). 

The Rams are getting a proven runner as well. For his career, Henderson has recorded just 177 carries. Michel triples that at 535, and has remained rather healthy in since coming out into the league. 

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Henderson missed three games in 2019 and one last season due to lingering injuries. 

The biggest marker is the price. Michel will only take up $1.79 million in cap space, and leaves the Patriots with $1.27 million in dead money in a contract season. Best of all, he'll be expected to receive a bulk of the carries. 

For Los Angeles, the only downside is giving up multiple picks. At some point, general manager Les Snead will need to hold onto draft picks for nothing more than cheap contracts down the line. 

Should the Rams receive the fourth-round compensation, the two picks will head back to the Rams when they're on the clock next April in Day 3 of the 2022 NFL Draft.

As for New England, they free up carries for other players. This preseason, Damien Harris continues to look like a three-down runner. James White adds value in the passing game. J.J. Taylor and fourth-round rookie Rhamondre Stevenson have impressed as well in snaps.  

Could we argue both walk away winners in the end? 

The Rams needed a lead running back who could handle the bulk of the carries. Check that off with Michel. 

The Patriots weren't including Michel in their long-term plans after electing to not pick up his fifth-year option. They garner picks while opening up the backfield. 

Perhaps the biggest winner of all is Michel, who joins an offense that will know how to utilize his skill set in a contract season. Rams coach Sean McVay will likely find a way to use him in both the run game and as a checkdown option in the passing game for new quarterback Matthew Stafford. 

And just like that, the Rams' biggest question mark has been answered. The only concern now will be if Michel can stay healthy through a full season? 

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