Options for Rams at center with Austin Blythe in K.C.

Rams could already have replacement for center on the roster
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A need for the Los Angeles Rams this offseason shot up the priority list when unrestricted free agent Austin Blythe signed with the Kansas City Chiefs on Tuesday.

Rams head coach Sean McVay had said that he would like to bring Blythe back, but every move has a price tag. Ultimately, it appears the Rams believed they have answers to the center position already on the roster, or will pursue a replacement through the draft or free agency.

Certainly, the Rams could afford Blthye’s one-year, $990,000 deal with Kansas City, which included an additional $750,000 in playing time incentives. The fact the Rams apparently were not willing to match that offer seems to indicate they were fine with Blythe moving to another team.

Now that Blythe is in Kansas City, the Rams have an important void to fill up front this offseason. They will start a new center and quarterback with Matthew Stafford taking over next season.

Here’s where the Rams sit in free agency heading into the draft in April:

Who’s in
OLB Leonard Floyd:
Four years, $64 million ($32 million guaranteed)
QB Matthew Stafford (trade): Two years, $43 million left on his current deal from Lions
CB Darious Williams: Restricted free agent received first round tender worth $4.766 million
TE Johnny Mundt: Signed a one-year deal stay with the Rams
WR DeSean Jackson: Signed a one-year, $4.5 million deal

Who’s out
S John Johnson: Signed a three-year, $33,75 million deal ($24 million guaranteed) with the Cleveland Browns
OLB Samson Ebukam: Signed a two-year, $12 million deal ($5 million guaranteed) with the San Francisco 49ers.
OLB Derek Rivers: Signed a one-year, $3 million deal with the Houston Texans
LS Jake McQuiade: Signed a one-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys
RB Malcolm Brown: Signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Dolphins
DE Michael Brockers: Trade to Detroit Lions
QB Jared Goff: Trade to Detroit Lions
DE Morgan Fox: Signed a two-year, $8.5 million deal with the Carolina Panthers
TE Gerald Everett: Signed a one-year, $6 million deal with the Seattle Seahawks
CB Troy Hill: Signed a two-year, $9 million deal with the Cleveland Browns
WR Josh Reynolds: Signed a one-year, $1.75 million deal with the Tennessee Titans
C Austin Blythe: Agreed to a one-year, $990,000 deal with the Kansas City Chiefs

Still waiting
QB Blake Bortles

Here are some options at center for the Rams now that Blythe is in Kansas City.

CURRENTLY ON THE ROSTER

Brian Allen -- A fourth-round selection in the 2018 draft by the Rams, Allen started center for nine games in 2019 before suffering a season-ending knee injury that required surgery. Allen was on the active roster last season, but never played as he worked his way back from a torn MCL, torn meniscus and fractured tibia. The Michigan State product is only 25 years; proving that he’s healthy will be a priority for the upcoming season.

Coleman Shelton -- The University of Washington product was an All-Pac 12, first team performer his final season with the Huskies two years ago. Shelton was active for all but one game last year, playing exclusively on special teams. It’s interesting that the Rams kept Shelton on the active roster in 2020, perhaps an indication of how they value the versatile offensive lineman moving forward.

Tremayne Anchrum Jr. -- A seventh-round selection last season, Anchrum mostly worked at tackle last season, but was viewed by some draft analysts as a candidate to kick inside and play guard in the NFL. Other tackle prospects like Justin Britt of the Houston Texans have moved inside to play center during their NFL careers. If the Rams want to get the team’s best five lineman on the field, it could make sense to move Anchrum. The Rams like the Clemson product and he could be groomed as a developmental center prospect to create more versatility up front.

FREE AGENCY

Austin Reiter -- With the Chiefs signing Austin Blythe, Kansas City’s starting center from last season in Reiter is available and could be an inexpensive option for the Rams if they want to add veteran experience in free agency.

James Ferentz -- A part-time starter at center for the New England Patriots last season, the Iowa product could be a training camp body that adds experienced competition at a position of need for the Rams.

DRAFT

Quinn Meinerz -- One of the top-rated interior offensive linemen in the draft, it’s possible the small-school product out of Wisconsin-Whitewater could be around when the Rams select at the end of the second round. And it appears the Rams are doing their homework on the interior offensive line prospect, reportedly holding a virtual meeting with him in February.

Drew Dalman – Rams new offensive line coach Kevin Carberry coached Dalman at Stanford las year, so he’ll have an intimate knowledge of his skill set. At 6-3 and 300 pounds, Dalman was a two-year starter at center and guard. He played in a pro-style offense for the Cardinal.