Per LA Rams GM Snead, next wave of OTs are good enough to start
By Bret Stuter
What will the LA Rams do at the offensive tackle position? The team has savvy veteran Andrew Whitworth at left tackle. But Whitworth is coming off of a devastating knee injury that he rushed back from, and at 39 years of age, how long can the organization expect him to play at one of the most physically demanding positions on the team?
His bookend teammate is Rob Havenstein. Havenstein was a second-round offensive tackle who arrived from the 2015 NFL Draft. He is over ten years younger than Whitworth, but he can be inconsistent in his play. He had a dreadful 2019 season, a real stinker of a year. While he did rebound in 2020, even in the season he seemed to have good games and not-so-good games. I believe that there is still enough value for the LA Rams to consider trading Havenstein. One report suggests that he is already on the trading block.
People only know what they see. So the quality of the Rams backup offensive linemen is still pretty ambiguous for now. If the Rams part ways with either Andrew Whitworth or Rob Havenstein, who will take their place? Some find that topic as repulsive and unthinkable as talking about death. But some topics are inevitable. The Rams may need to cut or trade players to get under the salary cap by March 17, 2021, at 1:00 pm PT. And GM Les Snead admitted that cuts are on the table.
LA Rams depth chart
On the LA Rams depth chart, there is never the ‘right time’ to give a backup the chance to start. For those of you who want to use the 2020 season as the basis for the quality of Rams backup offensive linemen, that’s not a good strategy. The Rams were so hard-pressed to field a team with almost no time to prepare, that the lion’s share of offensive snaps was dedicated to presumed starters just to ensure they were ready for the 2021 NFL season.
Invariably, by the sheer necessity of the economics, the LA Rams may need to rely upon OT Joseph Noteboom, OT Chandler Brewer, and/or OT Tremayne Anchrum to start on the offensive line at offensive tackle for 2021. Now, they are not the names that are tossed around very often in discussions about future stars of the LA Rams. But we don’t see them practice each week. We do not witness how they stand up against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL.
The Rams did not dive heavily into the 2020 NFL Draft for offensive linemen. At this time a year ago, some analysts and many fans expected that the Rams would draft no fewer than three offensive linemen a year ago. That didn’t happen. What did happen was the LA Rams re-signed their offensive linemen to return, and then picked up a late (but quality) offensive lineman in the draft. The Rams chose to start veterans. So nobody saw much of anyone else last year. So why would the Rams trust young offensive tackles in 2021?
Because Les Snead says so…
While many do not believe in the LA Rams’ young offensive tackles, especially in the context of their stepping up to assume a starting role in 2021. But GM Les Snead does. And he cited the names of all three players today in a press conference as players who could rightfully earn and assume a starting role for the team in 2021.
The outlook for virtually all young offensive linemen is a catch 22. Fans are uncomfortable (to say the least) about the player until they show an ability to play as a starter with proficiency. And thanks to the nature of the position, no young offensive lineman can achieve the necessary proficiency until they train with, and join, the starting offensive linemen on the field. So nobody thinks that they deserve to start because they haven’t. And they can’t earn or look the part of a starter until they do.
The current LA Rams salary cap squeeze may break that logjam. The Rams may be forced to exchange experience at the offensive tackle position for savings of paying a starter a fraction of the cost of an average starter. The Rams pay elite players handsomely. So the team must make up the difference elsewhere.
The deadline is March 17, 2020, at 1:00 pm PT. It won’t move. So the Rams salary cap number must move, down, and quickly. The LA Rams boast 2 elite players on that defense.
So the team will need to play some below-average salaries elsewhere. You may not think it’s the right thing to do, but it truly sounds like Les Snead is already on board.