The Los Angeles Rams may have lost the offseason in injury news. Expected breakout second-year running back Cam Akers has suffered a season-ending injury to his Achilles and will miss all of 2021.
While the Rams have not said they are openly looking for a replacement, there are plenty of options out there. Here are five possible replacements for the Rams to fill the Cam Akers-shaped hole in 2021.
Los Angeles Rams options to replace Cam Akers
#1 - Darrell Henderson
Cam Akers was the starting running back for the Los Angeles Rams before his injury. However, the Rams also have another young running back who has shown flashes of potential in his brief time in the NFL.
Darrell Henderson will be heading into his third season with the team. His first season saw little action, as he carried the ball only 39 times for 147 yards and no touchdowns.
However, his second season saw a good spike up to 624 yards and five touchdowns on the ground. Additionally, Henderson caught 16 balls for 159 yards and one touchdown. Going into his third season, Henderson seems up to the task of taking over as a bellcow running back.
#2 - Le'Veon Bell
The problem with bellcow running backs is that they do not last very long. The Rams learned this the hard way with Todd Gurley. If the Rams wish to maintain a dual-back committee rotation, they should strongly consider signing Le'Veon Bell.
Of course, he is a pain in the locker room, but he is still in his 20s and, after having a light workload the last few seasons, should be in better shape than many 29-year-old running backs. In 2019, Bell earned 789 yards and three touchdowns. That would essentially replace Akers' rookie-year production of 625 yards and two touchdowns.
#3 - Todd Gurley
It would be a little awkward at first, but adding Todd Gurley as a committee back would make sense for a one-year scenario. Gurley already knows McVay's offense and his 2020 production would replace that of Akers and then some. In 2020, Gurley earned 678 yards and nine touchdowns.
#4 - Duke Johnson
After Todd Gurley, the options for running backs become downgrades from Akers. The last free agent worth taking a look at is Duke Johnson. In 2019, Johnson had 410 yards and two touchdowns on 83 rushes, averaging 4.9 yards per carry. Johnson would be a risky move, but in a committee setup, he could be an upgrade behind the depth that will be sharing the workload with Darrell Henderson.
#5 - Nyheim Heins
The Rams are limited in their trading options. Since Akers is only going to be absent for 2021, it does not make sense to drop a bunch of draft capital on a player who's only needed for one season. The Rams' best option for getting a decent one-year rental for cheap is to look towards Indianapolis.
Nyheim Heins finds himself the odd man out behind Marlon Mack and Johnathan Taylor. Heins will be entering his fourth season in the NFL. Most recently, he's coming off a season in which he had 89 catches for 380 yards and three touchdowns.
He also caught 63 balls for 482 yards and four touchdowns. As a third-string running back, he seems ready for a promotion to compete for a starting job in the league.
The Rams are a win-now team, so they may be willing to spend more to fill the gap. Just because they do not want to spend a ton does not mean they will not spend more than other teams. The Rams could easily find it in themselves to entice the Colts with a generous (but not earth-shattering) offer.