Rams Have Traded for Von Miller. Is It a Big Deal?

The news broke this morning: Von Miller is headed to LA.

More details on the trade:

The Rams needed to convince the Broncos to pay Miller’s salary because the Rams just don’t have the cap space. The Rams only owe him about $722k.

Von Miller is on the final year of a 6-year contract, and he will be an unrestricted free agent after this season.

So the Rams are completely all-in on this season. It is truly Super Bowl Or Bust for them.

The Rams general manager Les Snead is as aggressive as they come in today’s NFL, as he has now traded for Jalen Ramsey, Matthew Stafford and Von Miller. He also traded for Sony Michel before the season. The Rams will not have a first round draft pick until 2025, and they haven’t had one since 2016, when they took Jared Goff #1 overall.

In the 2022 draft specifically, the Rams only have a 5th and a 7th remaining. Everything else has been traded away.

The Rams will have a mighty hangover several years down the line because they just aren’t able to acquire young talent, but they obviously don’t care about that. They feel they have a great chance to win the Super Bowl right now, and as long as they get one ring, then this will have all been worth it.

That’s why I can’t really knock the trade on the Rams’ part: because if it works out, and they do win a Super Bowl this year, then how can you say it wasn’t worth it? They are mortgaging their future to win now.

Obviously this move was made with their main NFC rivals in mind: division foes like the Cardinals and Seahawks, as well as teams like the Packers, Bucs and Cowboys.

Now the Rams have Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey and Von Miller on the same defense. That is truly incredible. I’m starting to get 2007 Patriots vibes from this Rams team–they’re starting to feel like a Super Team.

Now the main question is, is Von Miller still Von Miller? Well, in his 7 games this year (he got missed this week’s game due to an injury sustained against Cleveland the week prior), he’s got 4.5 sacks, 7 TFLs and 16 QB pressures per Pro Football Reference. His numbers are no longer elite, and there was a time when he was the best pass-rusher in the NFL, but he is still a top-20 pass rusher in the league–or maybe even better than that. Just the other day PFF posted this:

Now, I don’t know why they’re saying he has 28 pressures while Pro Football Reference says he has 16, maybe they’re using different definitions, but the point here is that PFF still grades Von Miller as an elite pass rusher.

He didn’t play at all last season dealing with an injury, but his numbers were down in his last full season, 2019. He’s now 32, so he’s clearly not in his prime anymore, but he is still a force to be reckoned with.

Plus, he’s going to be playing with Aaron Donald and Leonard Floyd, which means teams won’t be able to double him. He’s going to be free to just tee off in one-on-one matchups, and that will create lots of problems for defenses no matter what.

Even if he isn’t playing at his former Defensive Player of the Year/Super Bowl MVP level, Von Miller is still a tremendous addition to the Rams defense. He is one of the greatest defensive players in NFL history–a surefire Hall of Famer–and he will make a difference in LA.

I already felt like the Rams were legit Super Bowl contenders even before this trade, now they may be the favorites to win the whole thing.

As for the Broncos, this signals that they’re basically giving up on the 2021 season. They’re in a rebuild now, and are just trying to load up on draft picks. Getting a 2nd and a 3rd rounder is great for them, but what they really need now is a quarterback.

I don’t know if they’re still in the running for Aaron Rodgers–he may have changed his mind about leaving Green Bay, who knows?–or if they’re going to try to get DeShaun Watson. But it’s clear the Broncos are looking for the franchise QB to build around.

Does this move signal the end of Vic Fangio in Denver? It seems that way. It’s hard to really hold the team’s mediocrity against him when he hasn’t had a franchise quarterback. Denver is in a division with Mahomes, Justin Herbert and Derek Carr. There is no way they can compete with those guys trotting out Teddy Bridgewater and Drew Lock.

But NFL coaches don’t really get much leeway these days. A lot of the time we see guys get fired for failing to do the impossible, which is win lots of games without a franchise quarterback. There is no reason to believe Denver will have patience with Fangio, even if they do feel confident in their chances to get Aaron Rodgers next season, which would be a game-changer.

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