In 2017, Rob Havenstein was a third-year right tackle who had the advantage of being able to work outside of the spotlight because he was a member of one of the most veteran offensive lines in the NFL. The Los Angeles Rams had just signed Andrew Whitworth and John Sullivan, two veterans with a combined 20 years of experience, to start at left and right guard. And left guard Rodger Saffold, a second-team All-Pro that season, was in year seven.
Now five years on, it’s Havenstein’s turn to be the team’s most-experienced offensive lineman and unlike Whitworth having Sullivan and Saffold, there won’t be a close second.
Entering his eighth season in the league, the veteran right tackle has started 109 games, including postseason, which is more than double the 45 starts of left guard David Edwards. That is followed by the 29 starts of Brian Allen, then 19 for Joseph Noteboom, not all of which came at left tackle.
That gives Rob Havenstein more career starts than the rest of the Rams’ offensive line combined.
But what will the 2023 free agent be worth to L.A. on his next contract, if he even gets to his next contract with the Rams? That’s a question that many teams still seem to struggle with as right tackle continues to be far less valued than their blindside counterparts.
While 19 left tackles make at least $12 million per season on their current contracts, only five right tackles can say the same: Ryan Ramczyk, Brian O’Neill, Lane Johnson, Braden Smith, and Taylor Moton.
Havenstein, who signed a four-year, $32.5 million contract extension that is set to expire after 2022, is well below them at $8.125 million per season. Will he go up or down? Will the Rams pay it ... or will L.A. be getting even less experienced in 2023?
The only thing I know for sure is that Rob Havenstein is next on our top-20 for the most important Rams of 2022.
#11 - RT Rob Havenstein
“How good is that right tackle?” and “How valuable is that right tackle?” are two questions that don’t have easy answers. I know how eager many other writers are to say, “No, you’re wrong, PFF grades are an easy answer!”
Too easy for this writer to assume that I can just outsource the job of evaluating offensive line play because it scares me to take some responsibility and have my own opinions about players. That’s what using PFF grades as a writer means to me: a refusal to take responsibility because evaluating offensive linemen “is hard.”
What was Rob Havenstein’s PFF grade in 2021? Does not matter to me. I’ve always said that the best evaluator of offensive line play is what they’re being paid, because coaches, general managers, and owners can all come together and agree that money is the final word on value.
A contract says way more about a player than a Pro Bowl bid. The Minnesota Vikings signed right tackle Brian O’Neill to a five-year, $92.5 million contract last September—before he had ever made a Pro Bowl or All-Pro list—and then wouldn’t you know it, O’Neill was named to the Pro Bowl last season.
Do you see how that works?
Havenstein, who had four penalties all of last season, including a holding penalty in the Super Bowl, has never gotten the accolades. But the Rams paid him a starter’s contract the last time he was going to hit free agency and they’ll have to make that decision again sometime before next March.
However, despite playing opposite of a 40-year-old, Havenstein is now one of the oldest right tackles in the NFL at only 30. Only Lane Johnson (32), Morgan Moses (31), Tom Compton (33), and Kelvin Beachum (33) look to have him beat. How confident are the Rams in extending Rob Havenstein for his age 31-34 seasons as a right tackle?
And what does that cost?
Curiously, no right tackle makes anything between $10 million and $17 million per season: Moton makes $17 million per year as the number five right tackle, while Chukwuma Okarafor makes $9.75 million per year as the number six right tackle.
There are not many comparable right tackles for Havenstein who have been paid recently. He could end up leaving in free agency to a team that is desperate for veteran starters—think of when Rodger Saffold left for the Tennessee Titans—and is willing to outbid the most that the L.A. Rams can afford.
That’s why 2022 could be Havenstein’s last season with the Rams. He’s won a Super Bowl in L.A. and he’s looking to run it back with everyone else. Given another successful season, albeit one where he doesn’t stand out like Ramczyk or Lane Johnson, how many teams will come looking to outbid the Rams for his next contract? If he shows any signs of decline, then will the Rams offer him another contract?
When he goes, he’ll be taking more experience than the rest of his offensive line unit combined.
Which one of these players is most important to the success of the 2022 Rams?
This poll is closed
RT Rob Havenstein
LG David Edwards
C Brian Allen
RB Cam Akers
DT Greg Gaines
WR Van Jefferson