In predictable fashion, the NFL trade deadline came and went without any real fireworks. The rumor mill was running hot over the past two weeks, but as is the usual case: rumors are more exciting than the truth. Deshaun Watson is still riding pine in Houston, Marlon Mack is still a Colt, and OBJ will be catching passes from Baker for the remainder of the season.
The one trade that did perk up some ears was registered by the Los Angeles Rams. In a somewhat random move, the Broncos followed up their victory against Washington on Sunday by shipping eight-time Pro Bowl linebacker Von Miller to the Rams in exchange for a draft package. The move caught the Mile-High City a bit off guard considering that the pass rush was the lone bright spot in an otherwise bleak effort this season. Yes, the Broncos got back to .500 this week, and yes, they are sharing their half of the AFC West with the Chiefs, but after a 3-0 start, 4-4 is nothing to celebrate. It has seemed inevitable that Denver would wind up at the bottom of the totem pole in the west since the Chargers and Raiders evolved from “pretty good” to “legitimate contenders” this season. And with that in consideration, you can’t blame John Elway and GM George Paton for getting some value back from their biggest star that’s heading into free agency next year. When that star is a 32 year-old linebacker, a long term extension isn’t likely anyhow.
The return value for the organization’s all-time leader in sacks comes in the form of two picks in the 2022 draft. Adding a second and a third round selection means a total of five picks for the Broncos in the first three rounds, and a total of 11 in the upcoming draft. Six of which have been acquired via trade throughout the year. Take it for what it’s worth, but Paton and the Denver front office received a B+ grade for their selections in the 2020 draft, and if that act can be followed with another successful trip to the war room, Bronco faithful can walk away from this deal feeling like winners themselves.
Now, for the real winners. The Rams defense has been a staple since their Super Bowl run in 2018 and is currently the best in football. Halfway through the season, they lead the league in sacks with 25, and share the lead for interceptions with 11 (Bills, Saints, and Cowboys). Adding Von Miller and his 110 career sacks only shores up that pass rush even further and adds to the stack of talent they are riding in their hunt for the 1-seed in the NFC.
The spectacular defense is getting improved, and the offense is no slouch itself. Matthew Stafford and his supporting cast are bolstering an impressive 405 yards per game (5th), and are third in all of football in scoring, having racked up 245 points thus far. That mark is surpassed only by the reigning Super Bowl champion Buccaneers and formerly undefeated divisional foe Cardinals. Tied for the best record in the league with those same Cardinals and the Packers, this Rams team has set the stage for a deep run, and the chance to do what only Tom Brady and the 2021 Buccaneers have done… Enjoy home field advantage in the Super Bowl.