2022 brushoffs from Panthers improved the way the Rams front office operates

Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers
Brian Burns, Carolina Panthers / Jared C. Tilton/GettyImages

There was a time when the LA Rams ruled the deals made in the NFL. If an elite player suffered a dispute with their NFL team, it was not long before the rumor mill was whirling with reports like that player to the Rams via some whispered or speculated trade scenario. The Rams pulled off headliner trades for WR Brandin Cooks, OLB Dante Fowler and Von Miller, DB Jalen Ramsey, and perhaps the grandaddy of them all, QB Matthew Stafford.

But after the team won Super Bowl LVI, something changed. The team that was willing to stop at next to nothing to get the player in their crosshairs ran aground in attempts to trade for not one, but two Carolina Panthers' players. At the time, the Panthers were preparing to hunker down for a rebuild, and sought to replenish their draft picks by placing highly valued veterans up for trade.

Panthers rejected Rams offer for RB Christian McCaffrey

Per NFL Insider Albert Breer: The Rams’ final offer: second- and third-rounders in 2023, fourth- and fifth-rounders in ’24, and Cam Akers. While that swing and a miss did result in the San Francisco 49ers claiming RB Christian McCaffrey in a successful trade from the Panthers, don't feel bad for the LA Rams. There is good news at the end of this story

Yes, the Rams missed out on adding a star running back to the roster. It is also true that the addition of McCaffrey to the 49ers lauded rushing attack has allowed that team to win the NFC Western Division Title for two years in a row. But the Rams went on in 2022 to finish with a 5-12 record. And struggling RB Cam Akers did rediscover his wheels, finishing out that season with a trio of consecutive 100+ yards per game.

But it was simply too little too late to turn the season around.

Panthers rejected Rams offer for Edge rusher Brian Burns

Per ESPN Insider Adam Schefter: The Los Angeles Rams offered two first-round draft picks (2024 and 2025) and a second-round pick (2025) to Carolina in exchange for Burns. At the time, the roster was experiencing a high rate of season-ending injuries. The addition of Burn to the team was hoped to keep the defense solid enough to pull the wagon while the offense tried to regroup,

But once more, the stubborn Panthers front office rejected the Rams lucrative offer. While this felt like a setback at the time, the roster was simply too beaten up by that point to make a real run at a playoff berth.

So tell us what the Rams kept, Johnny?

While the team did not acquire either RB Christian McCaffrey or OLB Brian Burns, they did manage to keep their offered draft picks. So how have those turned out?

Panthers player

Picks offered

Players acquired

2023 role

Christian McCafrey

2023 Rd 2 pick

IOL Steve Avila

Starting LG

2023 Rd 3 pick

OLB Byron Young

Starting OLB

2024 Rd 4 pick


2024 Rd 5 pick


Cam Akers


Brian Burns

2024 Rd 1 pick


2025 Rd 1 pick


2025 Rd 2 pick


While the instant reaction from the Rams fans after no trades developed, I would argue that the Panthers did the Rams a favor by rejecting their trade offers. Why? Well let's compare who the team has on the roster right now in their place?

Despite 49ers RB Christian McCaffrey leading the league in rushing yards in 2023, you have a strong argument to make if you consider that Williams finished with just 315 yards and two touchdowns less than McCaffrey despite appearing in four fewer games. On a salary cap basis, McCaffrey is entering his third year of a four-year, $64+ million dollar contract. In stark contrast, Rams RB Kyren Williams is entering his third year of a four-year $4 million dollar contract.

In similar fashion, Brian Burns put up 8.0 quarterback sacks in 2023. But Rams rookie OLB Byron Young matched that total outright. Not only was Burns traded to the New York Giants, but he signed a five-year, $141 million contract with them.

The Rams not only have nearly equaled the production of McCaffrey and Burns combined in-house, but they did so in a far less expensive manner. The team also has the benefit of making picks in Rounds 1 and 5 of the 2024 NFL Draft thanks to Carolina's cold shoulder. The Rams also have picks in Rounds 1 and 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft to use as well.

In the end, the Panthers stopped the Rams from making a huge mistake. The front office, forced to fill needs from within, clobbered the 2023 NFL Draft in a big way. It was the success of the 2023 rookie class that put the team in the NFL Playoffs picture once more.

And with future drafts loaded with picks, the future is as bright as it has ever been. Thanks for reading.