LA Rams can help OL protection by trading for former 1st-rounder

Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

LA Rams QB Matthew Stafford has been in the wars too often during the 2022 NFL season, with the Rams starting quarterback already taking 22 sacks through six games. It’s a situation partly of the Rams’ own making thanks to the decision to replace left tackle Andrew Whitworth from within. But that was simply the first snowflake in a blizzard of injuries to an offensive line that has already pressed the team to promote 10 different NFL offensive into duty on the line of scrimmage.

That is quite a feat in just six games, as the LA Rams started the season with just eight offensive linemen on the active roster.

40-year-old left tackle Whitworth opting to retire after winning Super Bowl LVI took away Stafford’s blindside protector and a key force in the Rams’ zone-blocking schemes for the run. Rams swing tackle, Joe Noteboom, got the nod to replace Whitworth, but a torn Achilles has ended his season. LA Rams general manager Les Snead can fix a glaring problem at the key position along the offensive line by trading for a former first-round pick.

The Athletic‘s Mike Sando thinks Houston Texans Pro-Bowler Laremy Tunsil “would sure help the Rams.” Sando also pointed out how Tunsil “has a low base salary,” something likely to make him an attractive name for OT-needy teams ahead of the trade deadline on November 1.

Sando’s view is shared by Jason La Canfora, writing for The Washington Post:

"“Two executives pointed to Texans left tackle Laremy Tunsil as a prime potential target. Tunsil has a team-friendly $18.5 million base salary for 2023, the Texans are nowhere close to competing despite their perpetual rebuild, and with an extension unlikely they might be wise to lean into 2024 and 2025 draft pick returns, if that’s what it takes.” – per Jason La Canfora, writing for The Washington Post"

Tunsil will make $1,035,000 in base salary this season, according to The Rams could take on the 13th-overall pick of the Miami Dolphins in 2016 without stressing a cap situation where Snead has just $5,235,427 worth of space.

Related Story. LA Rams sign OT Ty Nsekhe to roster from Colts PS. light

More importantly, the Rams would be getting an accomplished tackle for a cheap price. Tunsil’s career was revived when the Dolphins traded him to the Texans in 2019 and he subsequently earned two straight Pro Bowl nominations.

Tunsil’s been dominant at times, especially when the Texans faced the Chicago Bears and prolific edge-rusher Robert Quinn in Week 3:

Blanking Quinn, who recorded 18.5 sacks in 2021, is ample proof that Tunsil remains one of the better pass protectors in the NFL. He’s a proven commodity on the blindside, where Stafford needs help most.

The Rams have misjudged the risk of using youth in such an important position. It can’t go on, even though Alaric Jackson is touted for big things. Jackson’s a physical specimen at 6-foot-7 and 330 pounds, but he’s also a former undrafted free agent who has been playing right guard in his second season. He did get promoted into playing at left tackle last season for a game and did very well for the Rams in a must-win against the Minnesota Vikings.

Tunsil, by contrast, is a legitimate veteran building block at left tackle. He’s still just 28 and able to dominate the best edge-rushers with superior footwork and instincts. Best of all, he is a bonafide starter with a proven body of work. There is no leap of faith needed to plug him into the Rams’ battered offensive line.

Those traits help Tunsil respond to the different pressures defensive coordinators like to throw at protection schemes. A great example came against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4, on a play highlighted by Bleacher Report’s Brandon Thorn:

Tunsil stayed alert after his man bailed into coverage. No. 78 kept his eyes up and his feet moving and wasn’t caught out by a nifty spin move from the defensive tackle.

Plays like this are what the Rams need from Stafford’s primary protector. Without them, McVay’s offense is going to stay stuck in reverse.

Snead has made season-turning trades his forte, acquiring names of the caliber of defensive back Jalen Ramsey, outside linebacker Von Miller and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. when needed. Putting down draft capital for a blocker as battle-tested and capable as Tunsil shouldn’t be a difficult choice.

Trending. LA Rams OT Alaric Jackson could spark offense turnaround. light