There are a myriad of reasons that help explain the collapse of the 2022 Los Angeles Rams and their campaign to repeat as Super Bowl champions.
Von Miller deciding to sign with the Buffalo Bills in free agency was the first sign of trouble. The second and most persistent issue were poor individual performances and a long string of injuries along the offensive line. While the Rams have been quiet so far during the 2023 free agency period, the two moves they’ve made have been focused on the big guys in front of Matthew Stafford.
On Tuesday the team restructured the contract Joe Noteboom signed last offseason in order to clear $9M in salary cap space. While the Rams have been quite public about receiving trade inquiries on Noteboom in recent years, he’s still recovering from an achilles tear and his trade value is likely sub-optimal.
LA announced they re-signed interior offensive lineman Coleman Shelton on Wednesday evening. Shelton inked a two-year deal during last year’s free agency period and entered training camp expecting to compete for a starting job. After starting 13 games for the Rams in 2022, Shelton had the ability to void his deal and likely asked to be paid like a starting level player.
The starting five lineman from opening day last year are all currently on the roster, though it’s fair to wonder if Brian Allen will stick around now that the team is paying Shelton to start. Allen has only started games at center for the Rams, though Shelton does have position versatility and can play both center and guard.
Who would be the starting five if the season began today?
LT - Joseph Noteboom
LG - AJ Jackson
C - Brian Allen
RG - Coleman Shelton
RT - Rob Havenstein
Noteboom and Jackson are interchangeable at left tackle and left guard—both have played each position and performed admirably at times. Noteboom has struggled with injuries throughout his career, so perhaps it’s better to keep Jackson as a reserve and rely on another interior player as plan A.
Bringing back Shelton could spell the end of Allen’s days with the Rams, though LA doesn’t currently have a player on the roster that would be considered a reliable backup at center.
Rob Havenstein received a contract extension before the onset of the regular season last year, and he was the one member of the offensive line that started all 17 games in 2022.
Key depth pieces & developmental prospects
Last season proved that you can never have enough reliable depth players on the offensive line, though roster limitations prevent protection against catastrophic levels of injuries like the Rams faced.
Tremayne Anchrum, OG
Sean McVay and Les Snead both mentioned Anchrum as a potential starting level player during their NFL Scouting Combine press conferences, though the guard’s season ended due to injury after just two offensive snaps a year ago.
Can Anchrum return to form after injury, and do the Rams have plans to include him in the starting five—maybe after swapping Shelton in at center and potentially moving on from Allen?
Chandler Brewer, OG/OT
Brewer was one of LA’s top performers on the OL during the 2022 preseason, and he filled in admirably during his four regular season starting opportunities. His position flexibility between tackle and guard make him one of the more important reserve players on the roster. Brewer has been with the Rams since 2019, though he opted out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 precautions.
Logan Bruss, OG
Snead and McVay almost immediately anointed Bruss as a potential starter after selecting him in the late third round in last year’s draft. Bruss struggled mightily in the preseason—he posted a PFF pass blocking grade of 2.6 on 63 reps—before suffering a torn ACL and being forced to sit out for the entirety of his rookie year. It’s too early to write him off, but it might not be realistic to expect Bruss to compete for a starting role in 2023.
AJ Arcuri, OT
Arcuri started a regular season game against the Kansas City Chiefs when Ty Nsekhe was forced to sit out with injury. He held up well, though the Rams were not running their full offense with Bryce Perkins at quarterback. Unless at least two of Noteboom, Jackson, and Havenstein go down the Rams likely will not need to count on the second-year tackle this season.
Current free agents
- David Edwards, OG/OT
- Ty Nsekhe, OT
- Oday Aboushi, OG
- Matt Skura, OG/C