Today at practice, Los Angeles Rams’ running back, Cam Akers, suffered a torn Achilles while running drills. His season comes to an end before it even began.
Luckily, Sean McVay has ample time to replace Akers with the ball carriers on the roster or signing one of the top-tier free agent running backs. The obvious replacements sit behind Akers on the depth chart. Darrell Henderson played in 15 games, starting in 11 games, rushing for 624 yards and five touchdowns. The most impressive stat from Henderson’s season was his yards/carry; Henderson did not have a lot of carries but was productive with what he got.
The Rams drafted the other two running backs hoping for an opportunity at being the lead back.
However, the Rams may want to look to free agency for their replacement. The RB market has dropped immensely since the start of the offseason. They could sign many guys who already improve their offense without stepping on the field. Who is worth taking a chance on this season?
Here are a few RBs to replace Akers in 2021.
Without a doubt, Bell ranks as the best possible free-agent option. Bell brings an edge to the offense that has been missing since Gurley departed. Bell carried the offense in Pittsburgh, averaged over 20 carries per game along with around 5 targets per game, too. Stafford needs a rusher to carry the ball over 15 times per game for him to succeed in Los Angeles.
Bell differs from all the other backs due to his vision at the line of scrimmage. He can find gaps and holes just as good as the top rushers in the NFL. Stafford needs a bell cow RB; Bell fits into the system extremely well.
Devonta Freeman fits the Rams scheme with his hybrid style of play. He can run the ball well, while also being able to catch passes. He struggled during his final year in Atlanta but saw some action in 2020 with the Giants.
Freeman acted as Matt Ryan’s safety blanket for six seasons, rushing for 1000 yards twice (2015 & 2016) and led the league in rushing touchdowns with 11 in 2015. Stafford needs a guy like Freeman to be his lead back; he has only played with one running back to rush over 1000 yards throughout his entire career.
The Rams need to sign someone for the right price. Freeman brings a lot of value to an offense at a reasonable price.
AP led his team in carries for the third season in a row in Detroit. At age 36, Peterson remains a threat when on the field, continuing to play at a high level. He has told reporters that he believes he can play well into his 40s; signing with the Rams seems like a start.
Peterson’s dual-threat ability allows him to break apart defenses in different ways. He compares to Todd Gurley in 2018, but a tad older. McVay wants the chance to coach one of the greatest running backs of all time; he ranks high on the team’s watch list.
Gurley needs to come home.
The Rams released Todd Gurley at the end of the 2019 season due to his nagging tendonitis in both knees. He attempted to revive his career with the Falcons but rushed for the lowest amount of yards in his career (678). He still found the end zone 9 times, which makes up for his lack of yardage.
It is unlikely Gurley returns to Hollywood, but he fits an offense made for a hybrid back. Stafford loves to throw the ball, so he needs a back who can catch. Also, he needs a rusher who can establish the run to open the pass. Gurley has proven he can do this in crucial situations.
If Gurley’s knees have improved, this decision is a no-brainer.
The Rams have to deal with a brutal situation. Henderson acts as the band-aid, but landing a free agent like one of the players above may solve the problem entirely.