Has LA Rams center Austin Blythe done enough to earn an extension?

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

Has LA Rams veteran center Austin Blythe done enough to become the team’s long-term solution at the center position?

The LA Rams were most definitely shopping for a center in the offseason. Of course, the Rams had good reasons for doing so. The starter at the position, Brian Allen, struggled as a starter, eventually falling to a season-ending knee injury. His replacement, veteran interior offensive lineman Austin Blythe, had entered the NFL Free Agency market. And the third option, Austin Corbett, had proven to be far more effective as an offensive guard.

So the Rams were painted into a corner. To resolve the impasse, the team interviewed Michigan Wolverines’ interior lineman Cesar Ruiz during the 2020 NFL Scouting Combine.  The hope was that Ruiz might fall to the Rams in the second round at 52. Unfortunately, the New Orleans Saints were equally impressed by the young lineman, and called his name in round one, long before the Rams would make their selection.

Getting the band back together

That turn of events triggered a host of subsequent actions by the Rams. The team used the 52nd and 57th picks of the 2020 NFL Draft to add new weapons to the team’s offense.  The Rams may have guessed that Ruiz would not fall to the second round, and extended veteran Blythe on a one-year contract. That coincided with the Rams’ efforts to reclaim all the offensive line from 2019 and try once more this season. So the question is, has Blythe played well enough to re-sign a long-term deal? Or is this Blythes last season with the LA Rams?

From Pro Football Focus’ grading system, Blythe has rebounded tremendously this year. After a difficult season where Blythe was responsible for three penalties and two sacks, he earned a grade of just 50.2.  His 2020 performance has rebounded nicely, with just one penalty and one sack on his watch. That has allowed his PFF grade to skyrocket to 73.1, nearly as high as his 2018 season.

See ya, center Cohl Cabral

The LA Rams may not have drafted a rookie to play center for the team, but they did sign a promising rookie after the draft by the name of Cohl Cabral from Arizona State University. The Rams were uncertain of Brian Allen’s availability after last season’s injury but needed some insurance for the center position after last season’s wave of injuries. Cabral was signed as that insurance policy.  However, the team parted ways with Cabral in mid-November. While that freed up a roster spot, it reignited questions about the team’s plans for the center position in 2021.

If the Rams can afford to re-sign Blythe, I’m convinced that is their first option. But if his performance prices him out of the Rams’ price range, the team may promote Brian Allen to the role once more. Or if Allen is unable to assume the starting role, the team may be shopping the draft once more.

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Has LA Rams center Austin Blythe done enough to earn an extension? Yes, he has. But in doing so, he may be too expensive for the Rams to bring back.