Should Falcons trade for Rams RB Cam Akers?

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The Falcons have one of the most potent rushing attacks in the NFL. Atlanta is averaging 33.7 attempts per game (2nd), 165.2 yards per game (3rd), and 4.9 yards per attempt (9th). This past Sunday against the 49ers, the No. 1 rushing defense in football, Arthur Smith’s offense totaled 168 yards on the ground, which the head coach celebrated with beers. And there might be a running back on the trade market that could bolster the Falcons’ rushing attack — Cam Akers.

Two years after drafting him in the second round, the Rams are prepared to part ways with Akers, who was a healthy scratch for Los Angeles’ Week 6 matchup against the Panthers. The team is actively fielding trade offers, per Ian Rapoport, amid his “philosophical and football-related differences” with coach Sean McVay.

The Falcons don’t have an issue of moving the ball on the ground. Without their top running back — Cordarrelle Patterson — for a second straight week, the Falcons put up nearly 170 rushing yards on a team that usually allows an average of 71.4 yards rushing per game in the Niners. Three players — Marcus Mariota, Tyler Allgeier, and Caleb Huntley — put up more than 50 rushing yards, and it was the fifth time the offense has rushed for at least 168 yards in six games.

The Falcons are getting along just fine without Akers, but that’s because of their offensive line’s play and Smith’s intricate run game. The second-year head coach marries a myriad of different running styles — zone, gap, etc. — in similar-looking personnel packages. The offensive line has vastly improved after a year in the system, and the personnel changes at center and left guard are paying massive dividends. Honestly, you and I could run through the holes this group is making, ranking second in the league in rushing yards before contact, behind only the Ravens.

Still, the new regime has vowed to improve the roster in any way possible. Akers’ career has been a bag of mixed results. During his rookie year in a supplemental role, the Florida State product topped 600 rushing yards but tore his Achilles prior to the 2021 season. This year, he’s been dealt an inconsistent workload and was a healthy scratch last week. Still, Akers is just 23 years old and is due only $1.9 million on a contract that runs through 2023, so it’s not all bad.

The Falcons’ rushing attack of Huntley, Allgeier, and Mariota is not impressive on paper. But the trio has continually exceeded expectations, successfully moving the ball against the best defense in football. Patterson is eligible to return in a couple of weeks, but there’s no guarantee the veteran will be healthy enough to immediately return to the active roster when his 21-day window opens off the IR. Damien Williams is potentially close to returning after injuring his ribs in the season opener against the Saints, but that’s also not guaranteed.

If the compensation isn’t outrageous, I wouldn’t be shocked if the Falcons were interested in taking a gamble on Cam Akers. Without any leverage, the Rams surely couldn’t be expecting more than a late-round pick. And for Akers, I’d throw a future seventh-rounder to Los Angeles if I were Terry Fontenot.

Photographer: Jevone Moore/Icon Sportswire

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