Offseason Outlook: Options for the Rams, C.J. Anderson as the RB approaches free agency

Who would’ve guessed at the start of December that C.J. Anderson would become an essential part of the Rams’ run to Super Bowl LIII?

When Los Angeles started play against Detroit on Dec. 2, Malcolm Brown was healthy — but that changed by the end of the Rams’ 30-16 win. Then two weeks later, running back Todd Gurley suffered a knee injury during the early stages of the loss to the Eagles.

Enter Anderson, just in time to rush for 299 yards in the last two weeks of the regular season to help the Rams sweep the NFC West and clinch a first-round bye.

Anderson was also an essential part of the Rams’ two postseason wins, rushing for 123 yards against the Cowboys — as he and Gurley became the first pair of backs to rush for at least 100 yards each in a postseason game in franchise history. He then helped keep the Rams in the NFC title game with 16 carrels and a reception in the victory over New Orleans.

But being a late-season signee, Anderson’s time with the Rams could be at an end after just — remarkably — five games. He’s slated to be an unrestricted free agent when the new league year begins in mid-March.

Anderson did say that while he recognizes it’s a business, he would welcome a return to L.A.

“I definitely like what they do up here, it’s fun, it’s competitive, good organization, good coaches, good staff,” Anderson said on Feb. 5. “So if the cards allow it I’ll be here, if not I’ll go have fun somewhere else.”

Given Anderson’s unique role as an experienced veteran in the running backs room, it might be a bit difficult to replace him internally. Brown was a more than capable backup throughout the season, but he will be a restricted free agent on March 13. Los Angeles also has younger players like Justin Davis and John Kelly — a 2018 sixth-round pick — but they don’t necessarily have the experience when it comes to taking carries.

Prior to Super Bowl LIII, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported that L.A. “absolutely” wanted to keep Anderson for 2019. We’ll see over the coming weeks if that comes to fruition.

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