It felt like the Los Angeles Rams were trying to give away Cam Akers for the better part of a year. On Wednesday, they finally made a move, sending the fourth-year running back to the Minnesota Vikings.
Let’s run through the trade details before grading how each club did in today’s swap.
Grading the Cam Akers Trade
When we looked at potential Akers landing spots earlier this week, we speculated that the Rams wouldn’t be able to acquire much in exchange for the maligned RB.
Indeed, the Vikings sacrificed just about the bare minimum to acquire Akers from the Rams. Minnesota will send a conditional 2026 sixth-round pick to Los Angeles for Akers and a conditional 2026 seventh-round pick, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Trade: Rams are sending RB Cam Akers to the Minnesota Vikings for a swap of 2026 draft picks, per sources. pic.twitter.com/d79HmNT00u
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 20, 2023
Why was Akers’ trade value so low, and how will his presence in Minnesota affect the existing Vikings’ backfield?
Akers Gives Vikings Options Behind (Or Instead Of) Alexander Mattison
Alexander Mattison took over as the Vikings’ starting running following Dalvin Cook’s summer release, but he’s been a disappointment over the first two games of the season.
Mattison has posted only 62 rushing yards on 19 attempts, good for just 3.3 yards per carry. While Mattison has performed poorly, Minnesota’s struggling offensive line probably has something to do with his substandard production.
As a team, the Vikings rank dead last in EPA per rush and are fifth-worst in rushing success rate.
Akers was talented enough to get selected in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Vikings head coach Kevin O’Connell — an ex-Rams offensive coordinator — is aware of what Akers is capable of, and Akers should have familiarity with Minnesota’s offensive scheme.
Having more options in the backfield is a good thing, but does Akers profile as any sort of an improvement?
Mattison ranks fifth-worst in rushing yards over expectation per attempt this season, suggesting that a league-average running back would garner more yards than Mattison with the same blocking.
Want to know who ranks last in RYOE per attempt? None other than Akers.
There’s really no downside here for the Vikings. They’re giving up next to nothing to pick up Akers, who is earning close to the league minimum for the rest of the season.
If he hits, Minnesota’s rushing attack might improve. If Akers flops? No harm, no foul.
Rams Finally Part Ways With Akers
It’s been a strange saga for Akers in L.A. The Rams used the 52nd pick to land him in 2020 and saw him post at least 600 yards during his rookie campaign and in 2022.
But he ultimately requested a trade last season because he was displeased with his role in Los Angeles’ offense. Akers eventually returned to the Rams after the club seemingly couldn’t find a taker on the open market.
This year, Akers was quickly overtaken by Kyren Williams, who scored two touchdowns in Week 1. By Week 2, Akers was already a healthy scratch.
There’s not much to say about the Rams’ return for Akers. Managing a late-round pick swap — three seasons from now, no less — for a player who was a top-60 draft choice three years ago is obviously disappointing.
But given Akers’ standing in Los Angeles, and the fact that no other team around the NFL wanted to top the Vikings’ offer, this was clearly the best they could do.