The NFL trade deadline is quickly creeping up, and it looks like there could be a couple of running backs on the move before the deadline hits. The Carolina Panthers, who recently fired their coach Matt Rhule, are listening to offers for star running back Christian McCaffrey. The Los Angeles Rams are actively shopping running back Cam Akers as well after he was ruled out of their Week 6 contest for football related matters.
Both McCaffrey and Akers could have a decent amount of value on the trade market, as you can never have enough offensive playmakers on your team. Both guys have proven they can be lead running backs in high-functioning offenses, with McCaffrey being arguably the best running back in the game when he's healthy and on the field.
Both guys could be on the trade market, and there's a chance, however slight it may be, that there could be a running back swap in the works between these two sides. What would a potential deal look like for these two teams? Let's take a look at a swap of McCaffrey and Akers that would benefit both teams involved.
Rams receive: Christian McCaffrey
Panthers receive: Cam Akers, 2023 second-round pick, 2023 third-round pick
The grand prize in this deal would obviously be McCaffrey. When McCaffrey is fully healthy and in an offense that can actually function (which the Panthers offense isn't) he is deadly. His ability to be just as good of a receiver as a runner makes him so dangerous, and he could be just what the Rams offense is missing after their slow start to the season.
McCaffrey has been limited to an extent by Carolina's woeful offense but his production is still better than any running back on the Rams (72 CAR, 324 YDS, 2 TD, 26 REC, 188 YDS, 1 TD). His dual-threat ability would give Matthew Stafford some support under center that he hasn't really had from anyone other than Cooper Kupp this season.
For that reason, the Rams are going to have to pay a pretty penny if they want to land McCaffrey. They don't have their 2023 first-round draft pick after trading it to the Detroit Lions for Stafford, but the Rams haven't been shy about trading picks for top tier players before. They would give up their second and third round picks in the upcoming draft to convince the Panthers to part ways with McCaffrey.
Typically that wouldn't be enough, but the Panthers are short on draft picks in the upcoming draft, and they could benefit from getting some more picks to fill in the earlier rounds. If they wanted to, they could likely take the second-round pick and package it up with their own and move up into the first round. Whichever way you cut it, this gives Carolina some options in the draft that they didn't initially have.
Adding to the Panthers haul is Akers, which is an interesting piece of the package that not many other teams can offer. Akers has the upside to be a top tier running back in the league; he showed as much back in 2020. Akers hasn't necessarily looked as good since returning from a torn ACL late last season, but he hasn't really gotten an opportunity to do much for the Rams early this season.
Akers is a bit of a lottery ticket, and it might be one the Panthers would be willing to take on. Carolina is likely gearing up for a rebuild, and getting any sort of draft compensation is going to be nice. They could likely get a first-round pick from someone else, but this package from the Rams is basically as good as a first-rounder, and gives them a potentially deadly running back to replace McCaffrey.
The Panthers are going to need a lot to land McCaffrey, and this may ultimately not be enough to convince them to move him. The Rams not having a tradeable first-round pick handicaps them a bit, and trading away their two highest remaining picks may be a bit of a risk. But if it ends up being enough to land a star running back like McCaffrey, it would surely be worth it.
A Christian McCaffrey for Cam Akers swap would certainly be interesting, and if it were to happen, this is the trade package that it would likely have to be. The Rams have just enough draft capital in the upcoming draft to make a feasible trade package, and Akers could actually end up being the difference maker here. Either way, with the trade deadline coming up it will be interesting to see whether either of these guys get dealt, and it will be even more interesting if this swap ends up taking place.