Last month, Matt Barrows reported that LaMichael James was on the trading block. It caught nobody by surprise, with even James seemingly acknowledging that it was really just old news at that point. Trent Baalke has denied that the team is trying to trade James, insisting he is the team's current kick and punt returner.
Nonetheless, rumors and speculation will swirl. NFL.com joined in the chatter with a rundown of ten summertime trade candidates (h/t Bleeding Green Nation). The article broke down various trade candidates, and some of the most likely landing spots for each. LaMichael James showed up at No. 8:
Left out of the 49ers' running back rotation even before the arrivals of Carlos Hyde and a relatively healthy Marcus Lattimore, James has seemingly been on the trading block for a year now. We suspect he hasn't been moved because no team is willing to part with a mid- to late-round draft pick for an underwhelming scatback. He did star at Oregon under Eaglescoach Chip Kelly.
Potential landing spots: Eagles, Cowboys
As BGN pointed out, one problem with both these potential landing spots is the fact that both seemingly addressed their running back situations to some extent this offseason. The Eagles acquired Darren Sproles, who would seemingly fit the kind of role to which LMJ might play. Given that James could probably be had for a late draft pick at most, this does not rule out a trade there. Nonetheless, it does limit the option to some extent.
One team that I am a little curious about is the New England Patriots. Bill Belichick has a sizable stable of running backs with guys like Stevan Ridley, Shane Vereen, Brandon Bolden, and the recently drafted James White. The Patriots have rotated in bodies at running back with quite a bit of frequency over the years, so what's to stop them from adding a speedier element in LaMichael James? I haven't heard anything to suggest this could happen, but it could make some sense.
The 49ers will play this one close to the vest. The team is potentially looking at Bruce Ellington as a return candidate. If he struggles, the 49ers could very well end up keeping James. But if Ellington excels in returning kicks and punts, maybe they roll the dice and officially try to unload LaMichael James.
How do you see this playing out? I've included a poll to see what everyone thinks.