The Rams’ O-line doesn’t need an overhaul, just some shuffling

After watching Rams quarterbacks get planted on their backs each and every week, the overwhelming belief entering the offseason is that the offensive line needs a complete makeover. It was the weakest part of the team in 2022, allowing the third-most sacks in the NFL and the third-highest pressure rate, according to Pro Football Reference.

Even when Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp were healthy, the line couldn’t give Stafford enough time to create big plays down the field – or really even stand comfortably in the pocket.

As crazy as it may sound, the Rams don’t necessarily need to overhaul their offensive line. They might already have the pieces needed to field a decent group up front. The biggest problem in 2022 was the health of the line, which one can only hope will improve in 2023. It certainly can’t get any worse than it was.

Looking at the Rams’ depth chart of the players still under contract next season, there’s enough talent to fill out the line. In fact, there are a ton of options when you begin moving players around because of the position flexibility at guard and tackle, as well as guard and center.

Recently, Alaric Jackson alluded to the idea that the Rams don’t need to add any more pieces up front. They just need to shuffle the O-line to find the best possible combination from the players they currently have. He’s absolutely right, too.

Here are just a few possible combinations along the offensive line for 2023, excluding pending free agents. The only guaranteed starter is Rob Havenstein at right tackle, but the other four spots are all up for grabs.

LT

LG

C

RG

RT

Option 1

Alaric Jackson

Joe Noteboom

Brian Allen

Logan Bruss

Rob Havenstein

Option 2

Joe Noteboom

Alaric Jackson

Brian Allen

Tremayne Anchrum Jr.

Rob Havenstein

Option 3

Joe Noteboom

Tremayne Anchrum Jr.

Coleman Shelton

Alaric Jackson

Rob Havenstein

Option 4

Alaric Jackson

Tremayne Anchrum Jr.

Brian Allen

Logan Bruss

Rob Havenstein

In Options 3 and 4, we open the door for the possibility that either Allen or Noteboom will be cap casualties. Both signed multi-year deals last offseason, but they were both disappointing in 2022 and would save the Rams money this year if cut after June 1. Releasing Noteboom in the summer would free up $8.5 million, while Allen’s release would clear $4.4 million.

Releasing either of them is unlikely to happen, but keeping them as backups with sizable cap hits ($15.5 million for Noteboom and $6.2 million for Allen) might not be the best move, either. If the Rams move on from one of the two, Allen is the more likely option.

There are at least 10 different combinations you could assemble with the Rams’ current offensive linemen, and we won’t get into each of them, but the versatility of this group is a major plus. Just look at all the positions each of these players can line up at. Noteboom and Jackson can play guard or tackle, Shelton can play guard or center, and Anchrum and Bruss can play either guard spot.

Left tackle: Noteboom, Jackson
Guard: Noteboom, Jackson, Anchrum, Shelton, Bruss
Center: Allen, Shelton
Right tackle: Havenstein, Jackson, Arcuri

This isn’t to say the Rams shouldn’t consider adding offensive linemen this offseason because that has to be on the table. Noteboom struggled in 2022, we don’t know exactly what Anchrum and Bruss bring at guard, and neither Allen nor Shelton played particularly well at center.

There may be better options out there, whether it’s in the draft or free agency. But we also have to consider the fact that the Rams took steps toward building a competent offensive line last year. They re-signed Noteboom, Allen and Shelton to multi-year deals and drafted both Bruss and Arcuri in the draft.

This offseason will be more about finding each player’s best position rather than searching for replacements.

List

4 potential cap casualties for Rams in 2023

Story originally appeared on Rams Wire