As the opening day of the NFL Free Agency market is fastly approaching, the LA Rams have many roster holes that need to be filled. One glaring issue is the center position as the team’s starting center Austin Blythe will be a free agent this year. The middle of the offensive line is arguably the most important position for the Rams this offseason. With limited cap flexibility, the team is going to need to get creative.
This free-agent class is loaded with talent on both sides of the ball, especially on the offensive line. While the supply for a center is not as loaded as other positions, there are enough to fill the demand and the best players at the position are open to signing a flexible contract. The Rams should take a look at these three candidates.
1. Alex Mack– a 12-year NFL veteran and a former first-round pick (21st overall in the 2009 NFL Draft), Alex Mack is just what the doctor ordered to fix the middle of the offensive line. Mack has been arguably one of the best centers in football since his arrival to the league.
He spent the first seven years with the Browns, where he was a two-time Pro Bowler, and a second-team All-Pro (2013). in 2016, he signed a 5-year, $45-million contract with the Atlanta Falcons, where he helped lead the team to Super Bowl LI. In his five seasons with the team, he was a three-time Pro Bowler (2016-2018) and a two-time 2nd team All-Pro (2016-2017).
Alex Mack is perfect for the Ram because of his experience and longevity. His consistent play and leadership skills are something the Rams offensive line needs. Mack should be inexpensive due to his age (36) and could take a discount to play for the Rams because he is from southern California.
2. David Andrews– A former undrafted free agent from the University of Georgia in 2015, David Andrews has been a key part of the success of the New England Patriots for the past six seasons. Andrews has also been a major part of the dominance of the Patriots offensive line, keeping quarterback Tom Brady, and quarterback Cam Newton clean up the middle.
Andrews has been one of the most consistent centers in terms of availability, from 2015-2018, Andrews played in 60 games and started 57 of them. Due to blood clots detected in his lungs, he was ineligible to play in 2019. He returned in 2020 and played 12 games. He made his presence was felt, helping the Patriots offensive line to achieve a ranking fourth-overall per Pro Football Focus for the 2020 season.
Andrews is one of the most underrated offensive linemen in the league and can bring youth, and football IQ to the Rams offensive line. Matthew Stafford will automatically become best friends with Andrews, I assure you!
3. Joe Looney– A former fourth-round pick (117th overall) of the San Francisco 49ers in the 2012 NFL Draft, Joe Looney started his career as a backup. After spending his first three seasons with the 49ers without much playing time, he signed with the Tennessee Titans. There, he appeared in eight games. in 2016, he subsequently signed with the Dallas Cowboys as a versatile backup and was used in multiple positions along the offensive line.
in 2018, Looney was named as the starting center due to the season-long absence of starting center Travis Frederick. In that year, Looney proved to be one of the Cowboys’ most reliable offensive linemen. His versatility and NFL experience would make a great addition to the Rams offensive line.
With the Rams needing answers in the middle of the offensive line, these three candidates all offer a wealth of experience, as well as the ability to start on a solid NFL offensive line. All of them have longevity in the league and provide the ability to call out protection schemes along the offensive line. Protecting newly arrived quarterback Matthew Stafford is key to the Rams’ success, and protection up the middle is what will enable the LA Rams to go far.