LOS ANGELES — A person familiar with the decision tells The Associated Press that the Los Angeles Rams are finalizing a trade sending veteran defensive tackle Michael Brockers to the Detroit Lions.
The person spoke Tuesday night on condition of anonymity because the deal hadn’t been completed.
Brockers has been a stalwart on the Rams’ defensive line for the past nine seasons after they chose him with general manager Les Snead’s first draft pick in St. Louis in 2012. Brockers teamed up with All-Pro Aaron Donald in 2015 and built a formidable tandem on the Rams’ defensive line, and they were joined last year by Sebastian Joseph-Day in a breakout season.
Now Brockers is headed to Detroit to reunite with quarterback Jared Goff, who will be formally moved this week when the Rams’ trade for Matthew Stafford can be completed.
Brockers had 51 tackles and five sacks in 15 games for the Rams last season. He has 28 career sacks in nine seasons as a starter for the Rams while specializing in the dirty work and run-stopping assignments on the line.
Brockers also was a locker-room leader for the Rams. Snead and coach Sean McVay repeatedly lauded the veteran’s smarts and attitude as an example to their younger players.
“The energy, the charisma, the presence and the leadership that he provides, he has been so instrumental,” McVay said in January after Brockers returned from a bout with COVID-19.
“And it’s not just the production,” McVay said. “I’ll tell you what you really feel: You appreciate him because he’s got this warm, engaging personality, but he locks in on the field. Guys look to him to see, ‘All right, what does it look like to be a pro’s pro with how you approach meetings, how you approach practice?’ I think he has that perfect balance of urgency and enjoyment.”
Brockers nearly left the Rams a year ago, but his free-agent deal with the Baltimore Ravens was scratched when the team couldn’t get a satisfactory physical exam during the early weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic. Brockers subsequently re-signed with the Rams on a three-year deal.
The Rams have been pushed to the limits of the salary cap after their offseason machinations to acquire Stafford. But this deal doesn’t appear to be related to that necessity: Several hours earlier on Tuesday, the team announced that it had already managed to get under the cap for the new league year.
With the departures of Brockers and safety John Johnson, who is getting a lucrative free-agent deal with Cleveland, the Rams’ No. 1-ranked defense has lost two of its most important leaders — and three starters along with linebacker Samson Ebukam, who is moving to San Francisco.
With the departure of long snapper Jake McQuaide to the Dallas Cowboys this week, Brockers and punter Johnny Hekker were the Rams’ longest-tenured players. With running back Malcolm Brown’s impending departure for Miami, Hekker, Donald and right tackle Rob Havenstein will be the only remaining St. Louis Rams on Los Angeles’ roster.