Rams trade inside linebacker Kenny Young to Broncos for draft pick

Rams linebacker Kenny Young celebrates.
Rams linebacker Kenny Young celebrates helping to stop the Buccaneers on fourth down Sept. 26 at SoFi Stadium.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Ten days ago, Rams coach Sean McVay cautioned that the team was unlikely to make any “big splash moves” before the Nov. 2 NFL trade deadline.

But he added, “I would never say never.”

The possibility of a move, headline-grabbing or otherwise, became more of a possibility Monday when the Rams traded starting inside linebacker Kenny Young and a 2024 seventh-round draft pick to the Denver Broncos for a 2024 sixth-round pick.

On its face, the deal was surprising.

Heading into Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans, the Rams are 6-1 and regarded as contenders to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Young, a former UCLA standout, has been a mainstay on defense for two seasons.

He is in the last year of a contract that is costing the Rams $2.2 million this season, and inside linebacker is not a position that general manager Les Snead heavily invests in. The Rams were unlikely to re-sign Young. Had he left as a free agent, the Rams would get nothing in return.


Takeaways from Rams’ victory Sunday. The Rams beat the winless Detroit Lions, but the special teams failed over and over.

Oct. 25, 2021

Trading Young created financial space for other possible moves and netted the Rams future draft capital.

“It was financially driven,” McVay said of the trade during a videoconference with reporters.

Does it portend another trade-deadline move?

“It does give us some flexibility,” McVay said. “Whether or not that means that any major, big moves are imminent for us, that’s not something that I can really speak on.”

McVay said the Rams were surprised by the interest from the Broncos — whose linebacker corps has been ravaged by injuries — and how quickly the deal came together.

“Sometimes you’ve got to make decisions like that, that aren’t always the easiest,” he said. “But if you feel like, with the big picture in mind, it was the best thing for us, that’s what we had to do.”

The new financial flexibility provides the Rams opportunity to explore upgrading the roster, he said.


Young, who turns 26 next month, was acquired by the Rams in 2019 as part of a trade that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens — which opened the door for the Rams to trade for star cornerback Jalen Ramsey. Young started six games last year and every game this season.

Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff is brought down by Rams linebacker Kenny Young.
Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff is brought down by Rams linebacker Kenny Young in the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

On Sunday, Young made seven tackles, sacked Jared Goff and also had a key fourth-down stop during the Rams’ 28-19 victory over the Detroit Lions. He was second on the team with 46 tackles and also forced and recovered a fumble.

“Kenny brought a lot,” safety Jordan Fuller said Monday before the trade became official. “He’s very athletic. Just gets to the ball, and when he gets to the ball he’s there with bad intentions.

“We love Kenny. We love him here, and if he’s not here, best of luck to him.”

Young’s departure leaves the Rams with starter Troy Reeder, rookie Ernest Jones and fourth-year pro Travin Howard as inside linebackers.

Jones, 6 feet 2 and 230 pounds, was a third-round pick from South Carolina. He has played in every game, mainly on special teams, and made eight tackles. Against the Lions, he played four defensive snaps and 21 plays on special teams.

Jared Goff led an aggressive Lions attack that had the Rams on the ropes early, but L.A. had too much talent for winless Detroit.

Oct. 24, 2021

“You have a vision for what he could be,” McVay said. “That’s why we took him in the third round.”

Howard, a seventh-round pick in 2018, has three tackles this season. He took part in 21 plays on special teams against the Lions.

How they will be deployed in the aftermath of Young’s departure will be determined as the Rams prepare for the Texans.

“It could be kind of a mix and match,” McVay said.