New England Patriots: Pros and cons of Sony Michel’s trade to the Rams

Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images)
Sony Michel #26 of the New England Patriots (Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images) /

With every move made in the NFL, there are pros and cons that can be raised for either side. The New England Patriots trade this morning, which involved sending running back Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams for draft picks, certainly has numerous pros and cons on each side of the argument.

Making a trade like this is fine. Yet, there are some questions that can be raised, as well. Let’s delve into this issue a bit more and see if it actually was a good deal for the New England Patriots.

Why this is a good deal for the New England Patriots

The New England Patriots running back room is one of the major strengths of the team, especially on offense where it may be the very best aspect of the team’s attack.

Sony Michel is a good back and was solid depth in that room for certain. Yet, in examining the full complement of backs, he was certainly expendable by trade.

It wasn’t at all unexpected that Sony Michel would be dealt. The new lead back is now third-year player Damien Harris. Harris showed well in 2020 when he played in 10 games, and looks ready to burst upon the scene at full tilt in 2021.

In addition, Dion Lewis-like back J.J. Taylor has now proven that he is a capable all-around back, as he can run and catch the ball with an equal amount of skill.

Then there is a super pass-catching back, James White. It’s said here that White will rebound in style in 2021 from a subpar (for him) 2020 in which he “only” caught 49 passes. Expect a rebound.

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Then there is the “RAM”, rookie running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Stevenson has started his NFL career with a bang scoring four touchdowns in two preseason games.

Admittedly, he’s a favorite in this space. He’s exactly what the Patriots needed in this year’s draft and they actually got it. Kudos to them for that. He’s certainly worth rooting for.

The touchdowns included an electrifying 91-yarder in which he showed his explosiveness even though he is a roughly 230-pound runner. He also can catch it out of the backfield.

With this depth and quality available in mind, it was understandable to expect that Michel may end up getting dealt from a position of real of strength on this roster.

Another plus is that the Patriots received draft capital back in the trade. This cuts both ways in this space. First, the positives and later the negatives aspects of the picks will be explored. cites NFL insider par excellence, Ian Rapoport, as noting the Patriots draft pick return this way,

"NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport adds that the Patriots will receive a sixth-round pick and a fifth-round pick that could convert to a fourth-round pick if the Rams receive a compensatory selection in that round."

Since Michel’s fifth-year option as a former first-round pick was not picked up by the Patriots, at least they received something in return.

Why this is a bad deal for the New England Patriots

As for the cons, there are two big issues that make this a less than stellar deal for the New England Patriots. First, let’s mention the lesser problem.

The New England Patriots have weakened a room in which they had great depth and one in which you can always expect injuries. The running room was acknowledged as a top-notch group.

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Now, it has been weakened. This is less of a concern since, as noted above, they are still well-stocked at the position. But injuries happen and they could regret it down the line.

Somewhat ameliorating the situation, however, is that Brandon Bolden who is primarily a special teams player would add to the group if he makes the team. So that helps soften the blow.

The primary issue this writer sees, however, is in the return and the missed opportunity therein for the New England Patriots to decisively improve the team. It’s a significant miss.

The play there was to pry a top receiver out of the Rams and just make it happen. An outside-the-box trade was to trade Stephon Gilmore to the Rams for one of their top two receivers.

They would be Cooper Kupp or Robert Woods. Should Gilmore’s contract situation be unresolvable he could have been combined with Michel perhaps in a truly blockbuster deal.

That notwithstanding, Rams top runner Cam Akers is out for the year injured and the recent injury of Darrell Henderson had left the Rams in a bind.

This confluence of LA’s bad injury circumstance and New England’s wealth of riches at running back was opportunity knocking for the New England Patriots. They failed to open the door.

It was a perfect moment to include Michel and whatever else it might have taken, e.g. a second-round pick, whatever to bring one of the Rams’ top receivers to Foxborough.

The return of a measly sixth-round pick and a fifth or maybe a fourth for a proven young, former first-round back who had played well in the preseason was a missed chance for certain.

Those picks are an atrocious return for Michel and it does nothing to remedy the lack of depth and/or top talent at three positions; wide receiver, tight end, and offensive tackle.

The Patriots had the commodity the Rams desperately needed and the Rams have at least one they needed. They failed to take the necessary steps to make this type of deal a reality.

These are the biggest pitfalls in the deal. They received an embarrassing return for Michel in draft picks and didn’t capitalize on a huge opportunity to really improve the team for this season.

In sum, the New England Patriots muffed a golden opportunity to fleece the Rams and dramatically upgrade the team for 2021, the only year that matters.

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Instead, they settled. They settled for a poor return for a good running back from a team that again was desperate.

Frankly, that’s dreadful negotiating any way you look at it. It’s a lousy trade and it’s likely to look even worse later on. We’ll see.

What do you think of the Michel trade? We’d like to hear your views on whether you feel the Patriots nailed the trade or flubbed it.