Rams need help, but they shouldn’t trade for Christian McCaffrey

If that was a casting call, Christian McCaffrey nailed the role.

The star running back’s unspoken message to the Rams was far from subtle. It was basically “come and get me.”

The Rams should resist that urge.

Yes, her signature move is splashy forehead-slapping transactions, and it did so to great effect last season in the trade in linebacker Von Miller and the signing of free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., both of which her Super Bowl rings more than deserve.

The Rams thrive on hope these days, and with the NFL trade deadline two weeks away, McCaffrey is the diamond of hope.

That doesn’t mean he’ll end up in Los Angeles or that Carolina will even trade him, although it’s a safe bet the Panthers will pick up the phone and listen. They fell to 5-1 with Sunday’s 24-10 loss and their season is beyond saving.

Take away McCaffrey’s contribution — 69 yards rushing, 89 yards receiving — and the Panthers produced a meager 54-yard offense. They’ve fired their coach, are reliant on backup quarterback PJ Walker and will soon show Robbie Anderson the door after the wide receiver argued with the coaches on the sidelines on Sunday and was sent to the locker room before the end of the game.

Many teams would want the versatile McCaffrey. It’s easy to picture in San Francisco red, Buffalo blue, and Philadelphia green. But any fantasy football owner will remind you that they spend a lot of time in a boot and on crutches.

This was McCaffrey’s 24th career game with at least 50 yards rushing and receiving. Only Hall of Famer Marshall Faulk had more (41).

Breathe into a paper bag and calm down, Rams. Yes, you need another explosive weapon. Cooper Kupp can’t shoulder the entire offense, but this team has a far more pressing crisis up front.

It’s six weeks into the season and the Rams have reshuffled their offensive line for every game. They’re middle third string and third string left guard, and they have a right guard that wasn’t even on the team at the start of the season. If you took the top eight offensive players early in training camp, only two – Alaric Jackson and Rob Havenstein – remained consistently healthy.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey puts a big hit on Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey in the third quarter.

Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey puts a big hit on Carolina running back Christian McCaffrey in the third quarter.

(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Now the week off comes at the right time for the Rams because they’ll be getting some good players back, including center Brian Allen, cornerbacks Troy Hill and Cobie Durant, and – drum roll – wide receiver Van Jefferson, a key target for Matthew Stafford.

For all their offensive struggles, the Rams have looked good on defense over the past few weeks.

The McCaffrey case is complicated. It will come as no surprise that the Rams don’t have a first-round pick in next spring’s draft. They famously swap these and haven’t had a pick in the opening round since taking Jared Goff in 2016.

The Panthers are likely looking for a first-round pick for McCaffrey, although it’s almost unheard of for a running back to command it. If that’s the asking price, the Rams won’t be in the mix. The best they have is a second, and they might not even part with it.

McCaffrey is set to make $12 million in 2023, so he’s not a half-season renter like free-agency-bound Miller was. You trade for McCaffrey and walk down the aisle. That’s not a bad thing; He’s a great player. But it’s an obligation.

McCaffrey’s move – not a guarantee, but certainly a possibility – also depends on Panthers owner David Tepper’s expectations. He’s a hedge fund guy whose whole life revolves around valuations. Maybe he doesn’t agree with any of the suitors out there.

Another factor that could complicate trading this season is the NFL and especially the NFC, a big porridge of mediocrity. Look what happened on Sunday. Green Bay was embarrassed at home by the New York Jets. Tampa Bay fell to Pittsburgh with a win. San Francisco lost to Atlanta by two touchdowns.

Of the 32 teams, 22 are .500 or worse. In other words, very few clubs are willing to end the season and trade their best players. It looks like Carolina is up for it… for the right price.

So should the Rams go into a bidding war? It fits her profile, and McCaffrey would no doubt be a dynamic addition to her stuttering offense. But this time they have to make a pass. When they make a trade, it should be to bolster their offensive line or bolster their pass rush.

They will soon remove some key players from the injured list. let that be hers de facto Mid season moves this year. Making a splash is great, but only after you’ve proven you can keep your head above the waterline.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-10-16/panthers-christian-mccaffrey-not-answer-for-rams Rams need help, but they shouldn’t trade for Christian McCaffrey

Emma Bowman

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