5 free-agent centers the Rams should target

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Cameron DaSilva
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Center has been a revolving door in recent years for the Rams. They’ve had John Sullivan, Brian Allen and Austin Blythe all serve as the starter since 2017, getting mixed results from the group.

Blythe had an up-and-down season in 2020 and will now head into free agency this month – though Sean McVay has made it clear that the Rams value him on their offensive line. Retaining him will be more difficult this offseason after giving him a one-year deal last offseason, and he could choose to test the waters in hopes of landing a lucrative long-term contract.

If the Rams can’t re-sign Blythe, here are five potential targets at center in free agency.

David Andrews, Patriots

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Andrews missed the entire 2019 season while dealing with blood clots but he came back last season and played well. He’s an excellent pass protector and is still a capable run blocker, especially when afforded help from his guards on both sides – which the Rams would be able to give him with Austin Corbett and likely David Edwards. Andrews won’t become one of the highest-paid centers this offseason and any contract in the range of $6-7 million per year would work for the Rams. He’d likely be an upgrade over Blythe if the Rams can't retain him.

Joe Looney, Cowboys

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Looney helped step in to replace Travis Frederick in recent years and while he hasn’t played spectacular football at center, he has been a serviceable starter. Last season, he allowed three sacks in 764 snaps. He will be 31 for the 2021 season, which is on the older side for that position, but he’s an affordable option for the Rams in free agency and played on one of the best offensive lines in Dallas.

Austin Reiter, Chiefs

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Reiter had an excellent season for the Chiefs and will be one of the top centers available this offseason. He committed no penalties and didn’t give up any sacks in 2020, earning a PFF grade of 70.9. Heralded for his work in the running game, Reiter is also strong in pass protection after allowing just seven total pressures last season. His next contract could push above $8 million per year but for a high-end center, it’s a worthwhile price to pay.

Alex Mack, Falcons

(AP Photo/Danny Karnik)

Mack doesn’t seem to be the elite center he was just a few years ago, struggling a bit in 2020. Still, he only allowed one sack and had an overall grade of 65.9, per PFF. What works against Mack is his age. He’ll turn 36 in November and while he should still be a starter next season, he’s not a long-term solution. If the Rams really find themselves unable to either retain Blythe or sign one of the younger free agents available, Mack would be a stop-gap player for a year until the Rams find a future starter to take over – similar to the John Sullivan signing in 2017.

Nick Martin, Texans

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Martin gave up only one sack last season, continuing to hold up well in pass protection. But he wasn’t great as a run blocker, once again failing to earn a run-block grade above 61.0 for the fifth time in his five-year career. Martin was released this offseason, just one year into a three-year, $33 million contract. That actually benefits the Rams because he won’t factor into the compensatory pick equation. He’ll be 28 in April, so another three-year contract could be on the way for the former Notre Dame product.

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