Broncos, Rams trade grades: Kenny Young dealt to linebacker-needy Denver for draft pick

The end of the NFL’s seventh week included a trade between a Super Bowl hopeful and a team looking to end a four-game losing skid. The Los Angeles Rams have traded linebacker Kenny Young and a 2024 seventh-round pick to the Denver Broncos in exchange for a 2024 sixth-round pick, the Rams announced. 

In Young, the Broncos are getting a four-year veteran who started in each of the Rams’ first seven games of the 2021 season. The 27-year-old is on pace to have the most productive season of his career. He has 46 tackles this season (his career-high is 52, set in 2020) to go with two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. His lowlight this season was when he was ejected after making contact with an official during the Rams’ Week 2 win over the Colts. This is the second time Young has been traded, and both have happened in-season, as he was dealt from the Ravens — who drafted him in the fourth round of the 2018 draft — to the Rams in October of 2019. 

Here’s how both teams graded out following their midseason trade, with eight days remaining until the NFL’s trade deadline. 

Broncos: A 

Denver’s trade for Young is in response to a rash of injuries at linebacker. On Oct. 19, the team placed linebackers Alexander Johnson and Andre Mintze on injured reserve. Von Miller is currently dealing with an injury sustained during last Thursday night’s loss to the Browns. Micah Kiser was placed on injured reserve over the weekend. Fellow linebackers Curtis Robinson, Baron Browning and Aaron Patrick were added to the Broncos’ injury rundown over the past two days. All told, there are eight Broncos linebackers currently injured with six on injured reserve. 

Young isn’t a star, but is still a relatively young player who is a solid starter and a quality backup. The 26-year-old has shown flashes of being a significant impact player; in the Rams’ Week 14 win over the Patriots last season, Young recorded a team-high eight tackles. He also recorded a sack and an interception return for a touchdown in the Rams’ 24-3 win. He had seven tackles and a sack during the Rams’ win over the Lions on Sunday. Assuming he is a quick study of Denver’s playbook, Young can help vill the Broncos’ voids at linebacker. 

Rams: C+

While he remained in the starting lineup, Young’s playing time has fallen off in recent weeks. He appeared in just 55 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps on Sunday and has not played over 65 percent of the Rams’ defensive snaps in each of the last three weeks. Given that he is not a contributor on special teams, the Rams likely did not want to keep him on their roster over someone who does more in a reserve role. 

At 6-1 and with the NFL’s seventh-ranked scoring defense, it appears that the Rams and first-year defensive coordinator Raheem Morris know what they’re doing. That being said, it’s hard to fathom that Rams general manager Les Snead could not get more in exchange for Young. Along with receiving little compensation in exchange for Young, Los Angeles lost depth at the linebacker position, as they did not acquire another defensive player in the trade. It does provide an opening for third-round rookie linebacker Ernest Jones to see more playing time.

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