EAGAN, Minn. – The run-deficient Minnesota Vikings acquired running back Cam Akers in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams on Wednesday after the fourth-year player fell out of favor with the coaching staff and behind Kyren Williams on the depth chart.
The Vikings sent a 2026 conditional sixth-round draft pick to the Rams for Akers and a 2026 conditional seventh-round pick in the deal, which was pending Akers passing a physical.
Akers, who was the 52nd overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Florida State, tore his Achilles tendon during the 2021 preseason but recovered quickly enough to contribute in the playoffs during the Rams' run to a Super Bowl title. Vikings coach Kevin O'Connell, offensive coordinator Wes Phillips and quarterbacks coach Chris O'Hara were Rams assistants during Akers' first two years there.
Last season, Akers started slowly and clashed with the coaches. He was sent away from the team at midseason while the Rams tried to trade him. He returned after the deadline passed without a deal and ramped up his production, recording three straight 100-yard games to close out a dismal season for the then-reigning champions.
After the surprise retirement of Sony Michel, Akers was the clear frontrunner to be the featured ball carrier for coach Sean McVay's pass-centric offense.
“I know I deserve to be a starter in this league, so this is the year. Keep my head down, go to work, prove myself,” Akers said after reporting to training camp.
But after the Rams put the second-year player Williams ahead of him in the pecking order, they renewed their attempt to trade Akers. The Vikings were a natural fit given their coaches' familiarity with him and their league-low 69 rushing yards and league-high six lost fumbles through two games.
“I think he did a lot of really good things, and I think Cam is a quality player. I think sometimes it boils down to, ‘All right, is it a fit?’” McVay said on Monday after confirming the Rams were again trying to deal Akers. “This isn’t an indictment on any individual. I really care a lot about Cam, and I’m appreciative of some of the challenging things that we’ve gone through and where we ended up getting to in terms of our relationship and our ability to communicate clearly.”
The market value of running backs has never been lower in the NFL, as evidenced by the pennies-on-the-dollar trade compensation going to the Rams. By finding a trade partner, they at least saved some salary ($1.29 million) off their cap.
The Vikings released four-time Pro Bowl pick Dalvin Cook during the summer and turned their backfield over to Alexander Mattison, with second-year player Ty Chandler and recent pickup Myles Gaskin backing him up. Akers will have an opportunity to factor into that mix.
O'Connell has stressed the need to have a more efficient rushing attack, even if the Vikings are built around Kirk Cousins passing to Justin Jefferson and company. The coaches spent the extra time after the loss last Thursday at Philadelphia revisiting their strategy around the running game.
“So much of it just comes back to simple elements of technique, fundamentals, understanding of what we’re trying to get done," O'Connell said Wednesday before the trade was made.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL