In 2017 when Sean McVay first arrived in Los Angeles, one of the first big free agent signings that he made was for left tackle Andrew Whitworth. Whitworth was past his prime at 35-years old and he signed a three-year contract worth up to $36M.
For $12M a year, it was a bargain. For the first two years of the contract, Whitworth’s cap number ranked eighth and 15th respectively. With Whitworth playing like a top-5 left tackle, the Rams got a bargain and it’s arguably the best free agent signing in franchise history.
That same offseason, the Rams found John Sullivan. Sullivan’s cap number ranked 33rd and 13th in 2017 and 2018. again, the Rams got a bargain at a position of need at the time.
Fast forward six years later and the Rams once again have a hole at left tackle and other places on the offensive line. With limited cap space and resources, they’ll be looking to find a bargain. Here are the five best value offensive linemen that the Rams should consider in free agency.
LT Andre Dillard, Philadelphia Eagles
Andre Dillard hasn’t worked out for the Philadelphia Eagles. Selected in the first round in 2019, Dillard has only started nine games in four years, but played in 43. He’s become more of a depth player and swing tackle for the Eagles.
Dillard was a four-year starter at Washington State at left tackle who showed excellent footwork and movement. The Rams like versatile tackles who can move and get to the second level quickly. That was Dillard coming out in the draft.
It hasn’t worked with the Eagles. However, that doesn’t mean that it can’t work out for another team with a different scheme and coaching style. Dillard is still young at 27 years old.
While he hasn’t live up to his 22nd overall draft status, he also hasn’t been a complete bust. At the end of the day, he’s been a depth player on the best offensive line in the NFL.
In 340 snaps at left tackle in 2021, Dillard gave up just 20 pressures. This ranked 21st among tackles with at least 330 snaps. It’s worth noting that 11 of those pressures came in two games and six of those came in a Week 18 game in which the Eagles played primarily backups. During a four week stretch in which Dillard started at left tackle, he gave up just 12 pressures and wasn’t credited with a single sack according to Pro Football Focus.
Was really interested to see how #Eagles LT Andre Dillard performed on #MNF and I thought he had an impressive outing in his first start since 2019 #FlyEaglesFly— Fran Duffy (@EaglesXOs) September 28, 2021
Tune into #KCvsPHI | Oct. 3rd at 1:00 PM on CBS pic.twitter.com/7dYOag8Wkz
It’s hard to know exactly what that would look like in a larger sample, but the talent is there with Dillard. Could he put it together with another team?
RG Nate Herbig, New York Jets
Herbig is a little bigger than the Rams typically go for at guard as he is over 330 pounds. However, with his familiarity with new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and the running concepts, he’s someone to watch. Herbig might be one of my favorite options in free agency.
This isn’t a player who’s going to wow you with his PFF Grades. However, it is worth noting that he gave up just 18 pressures last year which was one more than Elgton Jenkins. Those numbers were better with Mike White under center who is your typical pocket passer. It’s also worth noting that he ranked sixth in run-block win rate among guards in ESPN’s offensive line metrics.
In Weeks 12-14 and 17, Herbig allowed just two pressures and ranked sixth in run-blocking according to Pro Football Focus.
I can't wait to watch this OL film. What a fantastic game by them in both pass blocking and run blocking.— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) November 7, 2022
One guy who stood out to me very often... Nate Herbig. Upon first watch, it seemed like he BALLED. Watch him on Robinson's TD! pic.twitter.com/OnjWqFxqaI
Herbig won’t be expensive and is someone who could play right guard immediately. This would allow the Rams to play Coleman Shelton at center who has arguably been just as good, if not better and more consistent than Brian Allen.
LT Isaiah Wynn, New England Patriots
Similarly to Dillard, Wynn is someone who hasn’t quite worked out in New England. A lot of that, however, is position usage and health reasons. Wynn put up good numbers at left tackle in 2020 and 2021.
He’s only 26 years old and also like Dillard is a former first round pick. The question is, after dealing with a year of injuries on the offensive line, is Wynn someone worth taking a risk on as a free agent?
In 2021, Wynn ranked ninth in run-blocking among tackles with at least 750 snaps. He also allowed 28 pressures on the left side which were just two more than Rob Havenstein. Wynn regressed last season, but some of that can possibly be credited to the Patriots offense being a mess under Matt Patricia and Joe Judge.
With all of that said, beggars can’t be choosers. The options for the Rams are going to be limited due to the resources that they have. If they can get a healthy season out of Wynn at left tackle, it’s a bargain that could pay off. A change of scenery for Wynn might be just what he needs to resurrect his career.
LG Ike Boettger, Buffalo Bills
The Rams already have one offensive lineman coming off of a torn achilles. It’s hard to imagine that they would add a second. However, Boettger has experience with new offensive line coach Ryan Wendell.
WOW @ikeboettger..— Cover 1 (@Cover1) December 21, 2020
*Signals to the right side that it has to be 5-on-5 blocking bc of LB mugging the B-gap.
*Impt bc the Broncos love to run games w Chubb looping inside.
*So right side has NO HELP vs. stunt.
*Feliciano knows he has to stick w the looper, he does, Allen escapes pic.twitter.com/VuvCMXfNR5
Prior to tearing his achilles in December of 2021, Boettger was playing very well at guard in his second season as a starter. A former undrafted free agent out of Iowa, this is someone that Wendell helped develop.
In 2021, Boettger gave up 17 pressures which were the eighth-fewest among guards with at least 600 snaps. His pass-blocking grade also ranked 18th at 72.4 according to Pro Football Focus.
If he returns from his achilles at his previous level, it could end up being a pretty good signing for the Rams.
C Michael Deiter, Miami Dolphins
If it’s one thing that Snead likes more than anything, it’s offensive linemen from Wisconsin. Similar to others on this list, Deiter isn’t going to wow anybody with his PFF Grades. If he had high PFF grades, he’d be getting a $10M contract that the Rams couldn’t afford.
Welcome back, Michael Deiter. Good work to get push on the double and peel to Pick up 48 and create a nice gain. pic.twitter.com/vtskbJ8wgm— Locked On Dolphins (@LockedOnPhins) December 8, 2021
Still, there’s some upside here. In 2021, Deiter gave up just 10 pressures at center among players with at least 500 snaps. That was the fourth-fewest in the NFL. He’s a former third-round pick by the Dolphins with center and left guard experience.
Again, Deiter wouldn’t be a flashy signing and may be better served as a depth option. However, that’s not something that the Rams had in 2022 on the interior. Deiter played mostly special teams last year despite a lot of injuries on the Dolphins offensive line that created opportunities at most positions except for center.
- C Garrett Bradbury, Minnesota Vikings
- C Ethan Pocic, Cleveland Browns
- G Nate Davis, Tennessee Titans
- C Connor McGovern, New York Jets
These players are all in the $7M-$9M range in terms of average per year. That may not seem like a lot, but the Rams don’t have that kind of money to just throw around. It seems unlikely that the Rams would spend that much on the interior. Brian Allen was the first player that they broke that trend with last season and that didn’t turn out well.
All three TEs doing their job, Ethan Pocic and Wyatt Teller getting into space pic.twitter.com/11du6XbGEQ— Cory (@realcorykinnan) January 3, 2023
Pocic and Davis are both intriguing options. Davis was a cog in the Titans run game while Pocic put together one of the better all-around seasons for a center in 2022. It wouldn’t be surprising to see the Rams spend money on a center, but it’s unlikely given the money already invested in the position with Allen.