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Rams trade talk: Do Christian McCaffrey or Brian Burns make sense?

The Rams made it to the bye week with a .500 record after an injury-filled first six weeks of the season. They’re in dire need of offensive linemen, but quality tackles don’t grow on trees. The same can be said for edge rushers, but there’s a really good one available in Carolina along with a star running back.

Here are potential trades the 3-3 Rams could explore during the week while also keeping an eye on free-agent wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.:

OBSTACLES FOR A ‘CMC’ TRADE

Let’s get this out the way now. Yes, the Rams have the draft picks and the cap space this season to go after Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, but it won’t be easy and the team needs to ask themselves a few questions before becoming serious suitors, if they haven’t done so already.

Do they want to continue putting the future on hold by trading more draft picks for a running back?

McCaffrey might be the best running back in the NFL and his versatility out of the backfield makes him an ideal fit in Coach Sean McVay’s scheme, but he still plays running back, a position that has lost plenty of value over the years, and he’s in sixth season, which is up there in running back years.

No running back was taken in the first round of this year’s draft, a strong indicator that the Panthers likely won’t receive a first-round offer – a good sign for the Rams because they don’t have one in 2023. But the Rams do have second- and third-round picks, and that puts them in the race for McCaffrey if they’re truly interested.

But is trading one of those picks a good investment? The New York Jets drafted Breece Hall in the second round this year and the Seattle Seahawks did the same with Kenneth Walker III. Those rookies are doing well, but some teams might not even consider a running back until after the second round. But the Jets and Seahawks likely aren’t complaining because they now have stud running backs on a rookie contract for at least the next three seasons.

McCaffrey is one of the rare running backs these days to get a lucrative extension from the team that drafted him. He was taken eighth overall in 2017 and that worked out well for the Panthers when he was on the rookie deal.

For the next question: Do the Rams want to pay McCaffrey? Money and cap space aren’t an issue this season because the Panthers have already taken the hit and paid McCaffrey his guaranteed money. But would McCaffrey bless a trade without a restructured deal from the new team that guarantees him money on the final three years of his current contract? This would require more shrewd salary-cap space moves from the Rams.

Again, the Rams could make the trade work for this season, but are they willing to clear all hurdles to land McCaffrey? They also need offensive linemen and a pass rusher.

POTENTIAL BURNS DEAL

Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns got Rams fans excited this week after he posted a video of a burly ram on his Instagram story. But that was followed by a video of a whale and a few pictures of panthers. Maybe Burns is just a fan of animal videos or he was having fun with the trade rumors.

If the Panthers are serious about trading one of their young cornerstone players, the Rams might not hesitate if they’re able to acquire Burns for a second-round pick. Burns would likely take advantage of the one-on-one matchups he would receive because of Aaron Donald’s presence in the interior of the Rams’ defensive line, which worked out perfectly last year with Von Miller, whom the Rams acquired from the Denver Broncos for second- and third-round picks. The Rams might do that deal again for Burns because he’s younger than Miller, but the former 2019 first-round pick is due for a massive contract extension.

Landing Burns might be tough for the Rams. It wouldn’t be a surprise if a team relinquishes a first-round pick to acquire one of the best edge rushers in the NFL.

POTENTIAL TRADES FOR AKERS

McVay announced Monday that the team is looking to trade running back Cam Akers. Here are a few possible trade scenarios:

Akers to the Chargers for a late-round draft pick: The Rams would send him to a different conference and the Chargers would fill a void with running back Joshua Kelley expected to miss a few weeks with a knee injury.

Akers to the Broncos for running back Melvin Gordon: The Rams would pair Darrell Henderson with Gordon, who also might need a fresh new start with the team benching him Monday night against the Chargers.

Akers to the Bills: Buffalo is searching for a running back and it won’t cost them much to acquire Akers, but the Bills might also be eyeing McCaffrey.

LATEST ON OBJ

Last week, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said he’s still confident wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. will return to the team when the time is right. But Miller continues to express confidence that Beckham will join him in Buffalo.

A handful of teams are interested in the free-agent wideout, and Beckham might be close on a decision after he tweeted the eyes emoji Tuesday, and for those not hip on social-media lingo, that usually means a move is coming soon. Or it could be another troll job like Burns posting animal videos.

Beckham was instrumental in the Rams’ run to a Super Bowl title after the team signed him midway through last season. But Beckham tore his ACL in Super Bowl LVI and reportedly won’t be ready to practice until next month.

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McVay was asked for an update Monday on a possible reunion with Beckham, who tweeted last week that the Rams made a “lowest of low” offer.

“I definitely do not want to close the door on that,” McVay said. “There’s just so many different moving parts relative to all of our certain situations we’re dealing with, just our players in general, and then what is exactly the things that he’s looking for that he’s deserving of and that he’s earned in terms of team, compensation, all those types of things.”

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