Well, it seems that the dust has not even settled on the LA Rams Week 8 win, and already the NFL Trade Deadline is screaming for attention. Well, screaming may not exactly be the right word. More like the frustrating sound you hear from a high-pitched buzzing mosquito hovering by your ear as you try to go to sleep.
You know, it will be less than 30 hours to the NFL Trade Deadline at 1:00 pm PT on November 2nd by the time you are reading this. So there is a lot of ground to cover relatively quickly. But before we go chasing after that buzz, let’s lay down some facts. After all, we want to do this responsibly, right? So here we go:
Fact I: The Rams suddenly cleared cap space
The LA Rams have plenty of valid reasons to clear salary-cap space, and the rapid promotion and toll on the funds with practice squad players, even for the temporary activations for games, has been at a much more rapid pace than before. But it was the timing that is the suspicious element.
We know that the LA Rams clearly see 2021 as ‘the year’. So any tinkering with the Rams salary cap, particularly with the result pushing dollars into future years, will be met with suspicion. One data point is nothing. But paired with other points? It could indicate a trend.
Fact II: The LA Rams traded ILB Kenny Young away for next to nothing
The LA Rams have a lot of faith in rookie inside linebacker Ernest Jones. and from what we witnessed from the young man in his first NFL start, they have every right to do so. He played hard, and he played smart. Well, except for one hands-to-the-face penalty that wiped out a gorgeous interception by teammate DB Donte Deayon.
Winning teams do not offload talent. The Rams started Kenny Young for seven games before the trade shipped him off to the Denver Broncos for a late draft pick upgrade in three years. Now, I presume that is because he earned that role. Oh, by trading Young, the LA Rams clear more cap space. Another data point.
Fact III: LA Rams choosing to trade, rather than throw to, DeSean Jackson
I won’t pretend to say who is right or who is wrong in the dispute between the LA Rams and DeSean Jackson. But the LA Rams loaded Jackson’s contract up with incentive clauses that pay Jackson more money if he meets those contractual conditions.
Does the guy only have eight receptions? Yes. But from that cameo-appearance bit of work, he’s put up 221 yards and a touchdown. He would easily have doubled that if he was hit in stride with a catchable ball. Jackson is doing exactly what the LA Rams contracted him to do. So this dispute over play-me-or-trade-me that seems to be a bad sign to some commentators is what the Rams intended.
Isn’t it better for a guy to want to play more and do better than slogging a ton of guaranteed money at a guy who stops showing up in games? At least, consider the possibility of a receiver who is paid regardless if he sits on the bench or plays on the field. I think I’d prefer the one who wants more involvement. Trading Jackson will clear more cap space. So who might be interested?
Well, we ran down a list of teams in a previous article. the Jacksonville Jaguars have flat out admitted to being on the lookout for an outside wide receiver with speed at the trade deadline. The Indianapolis Colts could use a speedy receiver. The Kansas City Chiefs love to have speed in their wide receivers. So too would the Tennessee Titans or even the LA Chargers. Another data point.
Now, what does it all mean?