NFL News & Analysis

New England Patriots trade RB Sony Michel to Los Angeles Rams for late-round conditional draft picks

Sep 27, 2020; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; New England Patriots running back Sony Michel (26) runs with the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the second quarter at Gillette Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports

Former first-round pick Sony Michel is on the move. The New England Patriots shipped the running back to the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday morning for conditional 2022 fifth- and sixth-round picks that could become one fourth-rounder, per The Athletic's Jourdan Rodrigue.

Michel, who ESPN's Adam Schefter said “probably will be the lead back” in Los Angeles, posted a career-high 80.9 PFF grade in 2020 that tied for 11th at the position and 3.41 yards after contact per attempt, which was a top-10 mark.

Year PFF Grade Yds After Contact
2020 80.9 (T-11th) 3.41 (8th)
2019 68.0 (39th) 2.55 (T-48th)
2018 75.8 (T-20th) 2.56 (T-47th)

Injuries have decimated Los Angeles' running back room this offseason, headlined by a season-ending torn Achilles for presumed starter Cam Akers. Darrell Henderson figured to see a bigger workload as a result, but he too is sidelined, dealing with an unknown thumb injury.

That left the Rams with rookies Jake Funk and Otis Anderson and former undrafted free agent Xavier Jones manning the backfield before they acquired Michel.

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FANTASY FOOTBALL IMPACT

Darrell Henderson stock down: Michel's acquisition makes it less likely we see Henderson in a pseudo-workhorse role. Move him down the rankings to back-end RB2 status. Michel, with a three-down skill set in his own right, is now an interesting flier if Henderson gets hurt.

Damien Harris stock up: Michel was vying for touches in the Patriots’ backfield, so his departure all but solidifies Harris as the clear early-down back. Harris will still lose out on passing downs to James White, but he's solid as an RB2 option.

Rhamondre Stevenson has sleeper appeal: Stevenson's impressive preseason showing gave the Patriots the confidence they needed to move Michel. Stevenson's size is LeGarrette Blount-esque, so don't be surprised if the rookie earns a goal-line role or his involvement increases throughout the season.


NFL IMPACT

Michel only mediocre in WAR: He is tied for 34th at the position in PFF Wins Above Replacement generated since entering the NFL in 2018.

New scheme, new Michel: How Michel fares in Rams head coach Sean McVay's zone-heavy scheme will be worth monitoring.

Michel struggles on outside-zone runs: The 26-year-old comes from a New England team that employed gap runs at one of the highest rates in the NFL, and he has recorded the worst outside-zone rushing grade among running backs with 100 such carries since 2018.

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