The heat is Von in LA.
The Rams made the biggest move of the 2021 NFL trade deadline, bringing in veteran pass rusher Von Miller to add to an already top-tier defensive line.
While the price was a bit high for a player who’s going to be a free agent following the year — the Rams are sending second- and third-round picks to the Broncos — the cost will probably be worth it.
Miller is still an above-average pass rusher, though he’s not quite the elite guy he was a few years ago. The hope for the Rams is that, playing him alongside Aaron Donald (and potentially to bookend with other Rams rushers), is that Miller will be able to turn back the clock and produce the remainder of the season.
It’s pretty simple:
Why did the Rams trade for Von Miller?
It’s not as much about Von Miller as it is as who’s playing alongside him.
In 2021, Aaron Donald has been lining up more at defensive end than he has in years past, when he would predominantly play inside as a defensive tackle. This year, he has more snaps at the left end than he does defensive tackle.
With Leonard Floyd coming off the left edge, the Rams defense trading for Miller makes a lot of sense: Even though Miller has lined up predominantly as a left outside linebacker in his career, moving him to the right in pass-rushing situations (or vice versa with Floyd) gives the Rams a potentially deadly trio of pass rushers in any given situation.
If that’s the way it works out, then somebody, probably Miller or Floyd, will be facing one-on-one situations as opposed to getting double teamed. Good luck scheming that.
In any case, whether or not that’s specifically how they deploy Miller, it helps that Miller is going to be playing beside Donald, and it helps that the duo has a combined 66 pressures (sacks, hits, hurries, per PFF) in 2021.
Miller has a 78.2 pass rush grade this year per PFF, a number that’s still respectable. It’s still below Miller’s best career seasons, but he can still get after it.
Though the price was steep for a player on an expiring contract (a second- and third-round pick), there was another benefit to the trade: The Broncos picked up $9 million of the remainder of Miller’s $9.7 million salary these year, leaving the Rams with a pretty cheap, but still top-tier, pass rusher to pair on the line alongside Donald.
As it turns out, head coach Sean McVay was all for the move.
Sean McVay said the move for Von Miller was brought to him a couple days ago by personnel people as a possible reality as Broncos worked with Rams on potential terms.
“You’ve gotta be shittin’ me.”
Player he’s wanted for some time.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) November 1, 2021
“You’ve gotta be s—in’ me,” McVay said when he was broached with the idea for acquiring Miller.
That’ll probably be the same reaction that opposing quarterbacks have the rest of the year, too.