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Patriots trade former first-rounder Sony Michel to Los Angeles Rams for 2022 draft picks

·3 min read
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If you can beat 'em, join 'em? That's effectively what's happened for Sony Michel.

The running back, a first-round pick (31st overall) of the New England Patriots three years ago, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams Wednesday morning for a conditional fifth- and sixth-round pick in the 2022 draft.

Michel scored the only touchdown of Super Bowl 53, when the Patriots beat the Rams 13-3 for their most recent Lombardi Trophy. However, he has been slowed by injuries since, limited to nine games and 563 yards from scrimmage in 2020, when he dealt with foot and quadriceps issues plus a bout with COVID-19.

New England declined the fifth-year option of Michel's rookie contract during the offseason, meaning he is scheduled to reach free agency in 2022.

Former Patriots RB Sony Michel (26) rushed for 94 yards while scoring the only TD of New England's Super Bowl 53 victory against the Rams.
Former Patriots RB Sony Michel (26) rushed for 94 yards while scoring the only TD of New England's Super Bowl 53 victory against the Rams.

Michel appeared to be on the roster bubble in New England, where Damien Harris is listed as the starting running back while James White plays extensively on passing downs. Fourth-rounder Rhamondre Stevenson has also been a revelation, leading the NFL in rushing yards (193) and TDs (4) through two weeks of preseason.

“It’s a good group," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of his running back room after last week's 35-0 defeat of the Eagles.

"Those guys all work hard. They have all gotten opportunities and have shown positively in their opportunities. Competition brings out the best in all of us. Those guys are competing well and are all contributing. It’s a great situation.”

Michel should be a valuable pickup for the Rams, who lost running back Cam Akers to an Achilles tear while working out prior to training camp. Darrell Henderson sprained his thumb in practice this week but is expected to be ready for the start of the regular season. Beyond that, the Rams had very little experience at the position.

"What he does bring is this element of make a cut, get north and south and get north and south with some force," said Rams GM Les Snead, who said the team used training camp to evaluate its backfield in the wake of Akers' injury.

"The physics that he brings to the table – let's call it a flavor of genre that we felt like complemented our group."

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A product from the University of Georgia, like new LA quarterback Matthew Stafford, Michel averaged nearly 1,000 yards from scrimmage in his first two NFL seasons. With 26 career catches, he hasn't been much of a factor in the passing game, though White capably handled that role for the Pats. Michel exceeded 20 receptions in two of his seasons with the Bulldogs.

Michel seemed to take on a bigger role as a receiver during preseason, catching four balls for 37 yards. He also rushed for 60 yards on 13 attempts in New England's two games this month. He could make his Rams debut Saturday, when they conclude their exhibition schedule against the Denver Broncos.

Los Angeles hosts the Chicago Bears in Week 1.

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Follow USA TODAY Sports' Nate Davis on Twitter @ByNateDavis.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Sony Michel traded to Rams from Patriots for draft picks