The Los Angeles Rams made a surprising move by trading linebacker Kenny Young and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for 2024 sixth-round pick.
Young started all seven for the Rams in the 2021 NFL season while playing at least 40% of the snaps in six of them. He was all over the field during the team’s 28-19 victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 7 with seven tackles and a sack.
Despite etching out a crucial role for himself in this defense, L.A. has opted to ship him to Denver for a late draft pick. Given the team’s history of making splash trades to supplement their championship expectations, the move has raised plenty of questions.
Sean McVay addressed the Young trade as both a financial decision and a token of faith to the linebackers currently on the 53-man roster, via Stu Jackson of TheRams.com:
“Really tough decision for us,” McVay said during a video conference Monday afternoon. “They had a need at linebacker and really it was an opportunity to free up some space just from some financials. Guys are going to be asked to step up. Very grateful for the contributions that Kenny’s made to our team over the last couple years, he has been our guy that’s played in a lot of single backer defenses.”
The Rams did manage to clear up $2.18 million in cap space with the trade. Regardless, McVay was coy about whether or not that money would be used to make another move:
“Whether or not that means that any major big moves are imminent for us, that’s not something that, you know, I can really speak on right now,” McVay said.
Young came to L.A. along with a fifth-round pick as part of the trade that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens. He largely played a reserve role during his first two seasons with the team until getting the starting nod in trying camp this offseason.
There is no denying that the Broncos got themselves a steal in the form of an experienced starter like Young. Their linebacker corps was stricken with injuries after Von Miller, Micah Kiser and Curtis Robinson all went down in Week 7.
However, it remains to be seen what the Rams will do with their return since a late-round draft pick three years from now will do little for their current championship window. McVay’s comments indicate that perhaps a splash move may be on the way with the extra cash now at their disposal.
For now, L.A. will be relying on Troy Reeder, Travin Howard and rookie Ernest Jones on the inside. There is no question that this is an underwhelming group in terms of both quality and depth given how much this defense has struggled against the run this season.