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LA Rams offensive line looks to Rob Havenstein as their new leader

Sean McVay says he’s been a leader all along

Los Angeles Rams v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

With the retirement of Andrew Whitworth, the Los Angeles Rams offensive line has a huge hole to fill, not only at left tackle, but a leadership role as well. Newly re-signed Joseph Noteboom is slated to protect Matthew Stafford’s blind side and Rob Havenstein, LA’s other bookend on the line is expected to take over as leader.

With his seven years of service, Havenstein enters the 2022 season as the second longest tenured Ram behind Aaron Donald. At age 30 he is the grizzled veteran on an O-Line unit that averages a little over 24 years of age. He’s logged over 100 starts over his career in St. Louis and LA and has proven to be adept at both pass and run blocking.

Playing for the Rams, a team chock full of bigger-than-life stars, a solid but unsung performer like Havenstein might get overlooked. But Sean McVay is well aware of what Hav’s presence means to the Rams offensive line and spoke about it on a video press conference last Wednesday.

“He's taken over a leadership role...really, he’s been leading. When you look at when Big Whit has missed a handful of games over the last couple of years, Rob has seamlessly asserted himself as that leader... (I) love Rob and he’s ready to just continue to be himself and really assert himself as a big-time leader for us.”

What Havenstein has brought to the Rams

Havenstein has been one of the building blocks of the Rams turnaround. Drafted out of Wisconsin at #57 in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft, the Rams were not put off by his less-than-average NFL Combine workout and instead, valued his footwork, work ethic, and durability. And while his athletic test numbers might not have measured up, his size and length certainly did. Lance Zierlein at NFL.com gave him a 6.21 prospect grade and said:

“Three-year starter who doesn’t look the part in his uniform, but teams should worry more about how the dish tastes rather than how it is plated. With surprising feet to pair with good length and balance, Havenstein has the tools to be a starting right tackle in the league.”

The Professional Football Writer’s Association named him to their All-rookie team. Pro Football Focus ranked Havenstein as the best run blocking tackle of 2018 and has given him generous grades over his career.

  • 2015- 70.9
  • 2016- 72.2
  • 2017- 69.9
  • 2018- 86.1
  • 2019- 50.9
  • 2020- 80.2
  • 2021- 81.5

About that 2019 season and a little retrospect

That injury plagued ‘19 season began with early knee and lower leg injuries and Havenstein tried to play through them but was eventually shut him down for the year in Week 9. It was a tough year for Hav, the offensive line, and the whole Rams team, but McVay was impressed with how the big right tackle handled that adversity,

“One of my favorite things... that says as much about Rob Havenstein as anything, is the way he worked through some stuff in ‘19... (he) was really playing through an injury that didn’t allow him to play at the level he’s accustomed to. What did he do? He just went back to work and got himself healthy... I think he’s been outstanding the last two years.”

Compounding 2019 Havenstein’s injury struggles was the fact that he signed a big contract extension after the Rams 2018 Super Bowl appearance. At the time, many fans and experts alike thought the $32.5 mil contract was an overreach. The grumbling was only magnified by the Rams missing the 2019 playoffs.

Now in retrospect, as Hav fulfills the the final year of that contract, it has proven to be an excellent move by General Manager Les Snead. And one could make a case that when Havenstein agreed to restructure his contract, last October, it gave the Rams the flexibility to sign Odell Beckham Jr. for the stretch run. Conjecture? Yes, but the timing is certainly there.

Super Bowl LVI - Los Angele Rams v Cincinnati Bengals
Rob Havenstein and Odell Beckham jr.
Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

So, will the Rams pay Havenstein like a team leader?

After the 2022 season, Hav becomes an unrestricted free agent. His current contract, according to overthecap.com, is $8.1 mil per season and the top and the going rate for top tackles in the NFL is $15 mil+ per annum. He is certainly deserving of a raise, but how large? Another stellar season of production and his emergence as the offensive line’s veteran leader could easily push his value up to the top of contract valuation charts.