LA Rams can replace Cam Akers with ‘Bargain-Basement’ RB

Nfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals
Nfl Los Angeles Rams At Arizona Cardinals /

You all know by now that the LA Rams and running back Cam Akers want to part ways.  That being said, the LA Rams should be in the market for a new running back ahead of the NFL’s trade deadline on November 1. Such as? Well, for starters, the running back must be someone who could be acquired on a “bargain-basement” contract. The LA Rams are a bit tight on funds, and a cheap option could appeal to a team struggling to make headway on the ground this season.

The suggestion comes from Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox, who named running back  D’Ernest Johnson of the Cleveland Browns as an ideal trade target. Knox cited the cap-friendly cost as a major plus for making this deal:

"“With a bargain-basement one-year, $1.2 million contract, Johnson should be on the radar of every running back-needy team.” – per Bleacher Report’s Kristopher Knox"

There’s also a recent history of trades between the two franchises, as the Browns traded cornerback Troy Hill to the Rams in April.

Johnson can handle workload Akers wants

Johnson’s cost may be cheap, but his talent is anything but, even though the Browns are overlooking him in 2022. The 26-year-old was something of a breakout player last year when he ran the ball 100 times for 534 yards and three touchdowns.

Although he impressed, it took injuries to get Johnson into the lineup. He took his chance when Browns running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt were out, but both are back this season, and Johnson’s numbers have suffered as a result.

He’s yet to take a single carry for the Browns while Chubb leads the NFL in rushing. Chubb was, is, and will continue to fill the role as the Cleveland Brown’s workhorse, but it’s Hunt’s role as Cleveland’s go-to back in third-down and goal-line situations that keep Johnson on the sideline.

The Rams have every incentive to give Johnson the chance to prove himself in a featured role. It’s what Akers hasn’t been able to get from head coach Sean McVay, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport.

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What’s up with Akers?

Akers has lost something this season it seems. That’s not my random observation, but likely at the very core of the current dispute between the player and the team.

Even when Akers has been given chances, he’s hardly taken them. Instead, the Rams’ second-round pick in 2020 is averaging just three yards per run. It’s little wonder rumors linking the Rams to alternatives like Carolina Panthers’ All-Pro Christian McCaffrey are heating up.

Johnson is a more cost-effective option for a team credits with just $4,931,090 worth of space under the salary cap. It’s also true that the 5-foot-10 208-pound Johnson is more of a ground-and-pound workhorse than McCaffrey.

The Browns’ third-stringer has the one-cut-and-go quickness McVay’s zone-based rushing schemes demand. Johnson can also finish with the power, the way he did for this score against the Denver Broncos last season:

LA Rams head coach Sean McVay’s offense is missing a reliable chain-mover in the running game. That role is not going to be filled by RB Darrell Henderson, RB Malcolm Brown, or rookie RB Kyren Williams by themselves.

A trade now makes sense and Johnson would surely take little more than a late-round draft pick in next year or beyond to acquire. This would be the kind of low-risk, high-yield trade smart teams make to turn their seasons around.

The defending Super Bowl champions won’t get their campaign back on track while they’re rushing for just 70.5 yards per game after six games. The Rams need to get help. And Cleveland Browns’ running back D’Ernest Johnson needs to get another chance.

That seems like the start of a beautiful friendship.

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