With the acquisition of a lot of new talent in the wide receiver room for the Los Angeles Rams, a reasonable question is Tavon Austin movable? If so, who would be a dance partner in a trade scenario?
Los Angeles Rams WR Tavon Austin has under achieved in the NFL.
Despite having one of the most exciting college highlight tapes ever, his NFL career has not lived up to what the Los Angeles Rams expected when they traded up to get him eight overall in the 2013 draft. While Austin was the number two option for the Rams last year, the addition of Sammy Watkins, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp have essentially relegated his to the depth.
While the Rams say there is still room for him on the team, and many fans (including this one) want to see what a creative offensive mind can do with him, might he be a potential trade option for the Rams? One could argue that in addition to the names mentioned above, that Mike Thomas, Pharoh Cooper, Josh Reynolds, and Nelson Spruce make the WR group rather crowded, and moving on from Austin could create some space there, as well as free up some money from his nearly $15 million cap hit this year (while this is undoubtedly a barrier for this season, his cap number drops to $8 million next season).
So, if they did want to move him (cutting him is not an option, as it would cost them $19.97 million in dead money), which teams might have interest? Here are seven I found.
The irony of Austin going to the Bills is noteworthy. Los Angeles added the Bills two best receivers from last year (Watkins and Woods). They were the team the Rams traded with to move up and get Tavon. And the Bills have already made two trades involving receivers in the last two weeks. But might that make this likely? The Bills are weak at receiver, and they spent a second round draft pick in OT Dion Dawkins this year, who is currently sitting behind OT Jordan Mills. Could Mills play RT for the Rams and be a veteran upgrade (pushing Rob Havenstein inside to guard)? Another name to keep an eye on is C Ryan Groy, who the Rams have already shown to have interest in. Could Groy play RG for a year before taking over for John Sullivan at center next season?
Tennessee is very young at receiver and may want to add a veteran presence with some flexibility and speed to work with Marcus Mariotta. The offensive line depth chart is loaded with undrafted free agents, so trading for a starting quality guard or tackle is unlikely. But they have picks, and might they be willing to send a 3rd for Austin?
New Orleans Saints
The Saints’ depth guys like T Bryce Harris and T John Fullington wouldn’t be an upgrade for the Rams. And New Orleans has depth at WR, which makes adding a player like Austin unnecessary. But consider: we all know Sean Payton’s propensity to use a special weapon (i.e. Jimmy Graham) and Drew Brees’ fondness of spreading the ball around to multiple different receivers. The Brees window may be closing and adding a weapon like Austin may interest the Saints who may be looking to go for it all in the next two years. Having Austin returning punts and catching the ball in the space a Payton/Brees offense creates may lead them to have interest.
Jacksonville is decent at WR, but they have shown previous interest in using “offensive weapons (i.e Denard Robinson whose contract expired and is no longer on the team). The Jaguars signed OG Earl Watford to a two-year deal this offseason, and he is currently slated to backup incumbent starter AJ Cann. Watford started 11 games for the Cardinals last year. Would Austin be more valuable to the Jags than Watford?
The Panthers typically go for tall recivers, but Austin cuild provide some speed and shiftiness to go along with Cam Newton. They did just draft RB Christian McCaffrey seventh overall, but having multiple movable parts may be attreactive to Ron Rivera and company. As for offensive line depth, OG Chris Scott started for the Panthers last year. He would provide another seasoned veteran option for the Rams up front.
New England Patriots
The Patriots are loaded at Receiver (Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan, Brandon Cooks, Danny Amendola), but seem to be going all in for the next year or two, perhaps the last couple with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Would they be willing to send a pick to the Rams to take on Austin and his cap hit? And does Austin playing for the Patriots scare anyone else?
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Lastly, the Browns are extremely young at receiver. They seem to be in full rebuild mode, but could adding a guy like Austin give them a spark for this year? John Greco started at center for the Browns last year and has now been relegated to a depth role. He would provide a versatile option for the Ram on the o-line, but at 32 years old, this may be the last year or two for Greco, who is returning from a foot injury. Is it worth it for the Rams to make this move? Ironic note: The Rams traded Greco to the Browns in 2011.
So what do you think Rams nation? Do any of these deals interest you?