Rams tender contracts to LB Travin Howard, OL Coleman Shelton

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Travin Howard (48) walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Roger Steinman)

The annual frenzy surrounding unrestricted NFL free agents will begin in less than two weeks.

In the meantime, the Rams made moves to ensure the return of inside linebacker Travin Howard and offensive lineman Coleman Shelton, tendering one-year contracts to the exclusive rights free agents, the team announced Thursday.

Players with fewer than three accrued NFL seasons on expiring contracts are regarded as exclusive rights free agents. Players cannot negotiate with other teams if their original team offers a one-year contract at the league minimum for their credited seasons.

Howard, a 2018 seventh-round draft pick, was regarded as a potential starter last season before he suffered a season-ending knee injury during training camp. Shelton signed with the Rams in 2019. He played in 15 games last season.

Free agency officially begins March 17, but it will be preceded by a so-called “legal tampering” period that begins March 15.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.