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The New England Patriots had a crowded running backs room. The Los Angeles Rams were watching bodies drop like flies in theirs.
The two teams came together to make a mutually beneficial trade.
The Patriots sent Sony Michel to the Rams for what could end up being a fourth-round draft pick in 2022. The compensation was officially announced as fifth- and sixth-round picks in 2022, but that's because the Rams have yet to receive any compensatory picks.
If and when the Rams receive the fourth-round compensatory pick they're expecting from free agent losses this offseason, that selection will head to New England.
How Sony Michel fits in with the Rams
With Cam Akers (torn right Achilles tendon) done for the season and expected starter Darrell Henderson Jr. suffering a mild thumb sprain, the Rams' RB depth was tested.
Raymond Calais also was hurt, leaving the Rams with only second-year undrafted back Xavier Jones and seventh-rounder Jake Funk on the depth chart before the trade.
The Rams likely will press Michel into immediate action. Sean McVay got a first-hand look at Michel in Super Bowl LIII when Michel ran for 94 yards and the game-winning touchdown on 18 carries in the Patriots' 13-3 victory.
There's also familiarity with Michel and Rams running backs coach Thomas Brown — one of the best in the business — who was Michel's position coach at Georgia in 2015.
Michel will play this season on a base salary of $1.79 million and will be a free agent in 2022. The Patriots declined to pick up his fifth-year option for 2022. But Michel's solid camp created a bit of a logjam and the opportunity for a trade.
The Patriots remain strong in the backfield
The Patriots are expected to use Damien Harris as the lead back of sorts. Harris was one of their most reliable offensive weapons last season, rushing for 691 yards and two scores on 137 carries, and also catching five passes for 52 yards in his 10 starts.
But injuries also plagued Harris last season. The Patriots, however, appear to have strong reserves even after the trade in case Harris gets banged up.
The standout preseason performances of 2020 undrafted free agent J.J. Taylor and 2021 fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson also put them very much in the Patriots' 53-man roster picture.
Stevenson has rushed 25 times in two preseason games for 193 yards and four TDs, including a 91-yard score. Taylor has rushed 14 times for 103 yards and one TD and has eight catches (second most for New England this preseason) for 49 yards.
New England also has standbys James White and Brandon Bolden in reserve. The Patriots are expected to be a run-heavy team this season.