As the 2021 NFL trade deadline came and went, there was one transaction that moved the needle and could have Super Bowl implications. The Denver Broncos sent their franchise leader in sacks and future Hall of Famer Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams in exchange for the Rams’ second and third-round draft picks. The Broncos also agreed to pay $9 million of Miller’s $9.7 million salary for the remainder of the season.
There are a few takeaways from this, but the biggest question is: Was this the right move for the Rams?
There are a few factors that may have contributed to this trade. Recently, it was reported that Miller threw his annual Halloween party and became offended when his teammates didn’t contribute toward the bill. He allegedly threatened to cause hell in the locker room for the unpaid debt. There was also an off-the-field distraction between him and Megan Denise, the mother of his child. He’s also 32, missed all of 2020 with injury, and is playing on an expiring contract. The Broncos were certainly having conversations regarding if they would compensate him for next year and, if so, what that number would look like. In the end, they decided to cut their losses and pick up draft capital in the process.
It is notable that even at 32, Miller is still a productive player. He has 4.5 sacks on the season and is also being influential when he doesn’t get home with 30 total pressures. Miller now pairs with Leonard Floyd to create a dynamic tandem on the edge. Floyd enjoyed one of the best seasons of his career in 2020 when he had 10 sacks. Oh, and the Rams also have the most dominant force in the NFL on their defensive line in Aaron Donald.
So was this the right move for the Rams? The answer is a resounding yes.
As it stands today, in terms of draft capital, the Rams have exactly three picks in the 2022 NFL Draft—they are in rounds 5 and 7, not including compensatory picks (they’ll get a third-rounder as part of Brad Holmes’ hiring in Detroit). So clearly the Rams have put all of their chips in to make a run at the Super Bowl this season. This was also evident in the offseason when they traded Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford.
Speaking of, the marriage between Stafford and Sean McVay has been phenomenal. Stafford is currently second in the NFL in passing yardage while leading the entire NFL in yards per attempt at 9.1. The Rams’ offense is playing extremely well.
We know the most effective route to the Super Bowl is to win your division and then secure a first-round bye, which makes the trade a proverbial gut punch to the Arizona Cardinals, who sit tied with the Rams atop the NFC West at 7-1. The Cardinals also have a quarterback in Kyler Murray who is dealing with an injury, so Los Angeles bolstering their defense has made them an even bigger threat. Although the Cardinals beat the Rams convincingly earlier in the season, I would still give the edge to the Rams in terms of the overall team. The Rams are better coached and now have more weapons on defense than any team in the NFC West.
I’m sure owner Stan Kroenke wanted to make a splash in a Los Angeles market that is also home to two teams who are the gold standard in their respective sports in the Dodgers and Lakers. The Super Bowl is being played in Los Angeles, the very first in the state-of-the-art SoFi stadium. Trading for Miller puts them closer to their goal of playing the Super Bowl at home in 2022.