The Rams made a trade this morning per ESPN’s Adam Schefter acquiring running back Sony Michel from the New England Patriots.
Patriots are trading RB Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for two late-round conditional draft picks, per sources.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 25, 2021
New England gets back two picks, the Rams get needed talent and depth at running back.
The Rams were in a position where they were looking to boost their running back by committee group which was dealt a big blow when last season’s rushing leader, Cam Akers, landed on the shelf with a torn Achilles. Trading for Michel gives them the ability to bring in a potential talented player on the cheap to fill in the role left by Akers.
Michel is a former first round pick of the Patriots in 2018. First round picks on running backs are often controversial and Michel’s run in New England did nothing to end that controversy. He never had a 1,000 yard season though he did lead the team in rushing in two of his three seasons. He seemed to fall out of favor with the team last season with a stint on IR and a more limited roll. The Patriots would decline the fifth year option for Michel.
Moving to the Rams should give Michel a fresh start where the expectations of being a top draft pick are gone and he can focus on having a big year with free agency around the corner in 2022. That can be a motivating factor for a player and he should see a bigger role in the Rams offense as a two down back than he may have in New England where he was likely playing out the string and may not have even made the team.
The Patriots likely look at this as a smart salary dump due to the salary and $555,747 remaining guarantee. The will clear $1,792,731 by trading him and receive some late draft picks in the process which is a big win for a team who probably was probably finished with the player. They will carry $1,270,308 in dead money this year for Michel.
The trade compensation here looks to be a 4th round compensatory pick (Nick projects them to receive that for the loss of John Johnson this offseason) which is a bit of a high price for the Rams to pay for what may just amount to a salary dump for the Patriots. The Rams are in a clear “win-now” window and likely not looking that far in the future to consider the pick impactful enough to pass up the talent in the player who they hope will be motivated by the change of scenery and chance of bigger free agent dollars.
There is next to no chance the Rams will recover a comp pick in 2023 for Michel anywhere near a 4th rounder but if he does leave they can probably recover something in the process which would limit the loss. If he has a normal year and doesn’t scare teams away I would guess he would earn a contract in the 6th round compensatory range. I would guess that the Rams also factored in the fact that they are projected to receive five compensatory picks next year as an offset of losing one of those picks for the hopeful immediate impact.
Before I saw the trade compensation I would have considered this a rare “win-win-win” scenario for the three sides here. It is a clear win for New England and Michel. The Rams will need him to excel in the role to justify the cost.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.