Opinion: Rams go all in on Super Bowl push with bold Von Miller trade
The Los Angeles Rams' aggressive approach continues as the team on Monday was finalizing a deal to acquire pass rusher Von Miller from the Denver Broncos in exchange for second- and third-round picks in 2022.
The move extends a trend that has seen general manager Les Snead and coach Sean McVay ship off draft picks to acquire highly touted veterans as they maintain their quest to return to the Super Bowl, where they fell short against the Patriots in 2018.
Miller, an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and three-time All-Pro pick, gives defensive coordinator Raheem Morris' unit another standout edge rusher for a group that already boasts a league-best 25 sacks.
However, Rams officials have wanted to add more help in this department.
Now, they achieve that goal, and the Rams should boast one of the fiercest defensive fronts in football.
NFL TRADE DEADLINE: Who else might be dealt by Tuesday?
With Leonard Floyd, who leads the Rams with 6 ½ sacks, and Miller (4 ½ sacks in seven games) coming off the edges, and Aaron Donald (5 ½ sacks) wreaking havoc on the interior, opposing offenses will find themselves faced with a tough task of protecting their quarterbacks.
The Miller trade is the second blockbuster deal that the Rams have pulled off this year after sending quarterback Jared Goff, two first-round picks and a third-rounder to the Lions for Matthew Stafford, who currently ranks second in the NFL with 2,477 passing yards.
And that deal came two years after the 2019 trade of cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Jacksonville for two first-round picks and a fourth-rounder.
The wheeling and dealing follows the blueprint that Snead and McVay have utilized ever since they joined forces in 2017 with the goal of elevating the Rams to championship form.
Snead and McVay have taken a win-now approach, freely parting with draft picks to acquire veteran talent that would improve their chances of contending in the present.
In 2018, the Rams sent a third- and fifth-rounder to Jacksonville for pass-rusher Dante Fowler Jr.
That same year, Los Angeles sent first- and sixth-rounders to New England for wide receiver Brandin Cooks, a fifth-rounder to Denver for cornerback Aqib Talib and second- and fourth-round selections to Kansas City for cornerback Marcus Peters.
Talib, Cooks and Peters all helped the team reach the Super Bowl in the 2018 season, but those moves weren’t quite enough to elevate the Rams above the Patriots in that 13-3 defeat.
Rather than dismantle their roster and rebuild it with draft picks, Snead and McVay have preferred an aggressive, retooling-on-the-fly approach as they continue to work to not only contend in the NFL, but also secure the market in Los Angeles, where they share a stadium with the Chargers.
Snead and McVay now are banking on this latest round of acquisitions to give them their best chance yet of returning to the Super Bowl. But first, they’ll have to take care of business in the regular season.
Los Angeles finds itself tied with Arizona at 7-1 in the competitive NFC West. The Cardinals handed the Rams their only loss of the season – a 37-20 romp in Week 4. Since then, McVay's crew has reeled off four straight victories.
A strengthened pass rush should help the Rams better contain Murray in their rematch in Week 14. And this roster now stacks up favorably against other vaunted NFC opponents.
The Rams already earned a statement win over the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 3. They’ll receive the chance to measure themselves against another NFC power, the Green Bay Packers, in Week 12. Los Angeles also has potential Super Bowl preview contests coming up with against AFC powers Tennessee (Week 9) and Baltimore (Week 17).
The Rams seemingly have the quarterback and offensive weapons capable of keeping pace with any of the elite teams in the league. Now, they believe the move for Miller elevates a promising defense to that next level as well.
Follow USA TODAY Sports' Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones.