Austin Blythe

OL Austin Blythe Announces Retirement

After an off-grid season in Kansas City as a backup, Austin Blythe returned to a role as a steady starter with Seattle. He will make that Seahawks season a one-off, however.

Blythe announced Tuesday he will retire after seven NFL seasons (Instagram link). The 30-year-old blocker was set to be a free agent, coming off a full season as the Seahawks’ starting center.

Sneaking onto the draft radar in 2016, Blythe managed to become a regular starter as a seventh-round pick. The ex-Iowa blocker ended up making 66 starts during his seven-year career, the final 17 (plus a playoff outing in San Francisco) came with the Seahawks. Seattle gave Blythe a one-year, $4MM deal to come over from Kansas City, where he backed up rookie standout Creed Humphrey in 2021. Blythe made sure the Seahawks had that center position, one that had gone through some inconsistency in recent years, covered.

A Colts draftee, Blythe will be best remembered for his Rams work. Indianapolis waived Blythe shortly after the 2017 draft, but Los Angeles claimed him in advance of Sean McVay‘s first season. Blythe worked as a backup for the 2017 Rams but started for their Super Bowl LIII-qualifying 2018 iteration and L.A.’s ensuing two squads. The Rams brought him back on a one-year deal in 2020, and Pro Football Focus graded that as a top-10 center season.

The Rams had moved Blythe from guard to center midway through his L.A. tenure, but the versatility did not bring much interest in 2021. Pete Carroll said that Blythe was ready to walk away last year, but some among the Seahawks convinced him to return. Blythe reunited with ex-Rams assistants Shane Waldron and Andy Dickerson with the Seahawks. Carroll had said Blythe previously expressed interest in re-signing with the Seahawks, via the Seattle Times’ Bob Condotta, but his Tuesday announcement will lead the team to look into other options at snapper.

OL Notes: Fins, Steele, Colts, Jets, Seahawks

After the Dolphins drafted him to be Laremy Tunsil‘s left tackle successor, Austin Jackson finished his second NFL season at guard. Pro Football Focus graded Jackson as the Dolphins’ worst regular starter last season and tabbed Miami’s unit as the league’s worst. The team has since made changes, signing Terron Armstead to a big-ticket deal and adding guard Connor Williams. With Robert Hunt at right guard, the Dolphins are looking to try Jackson at a third position soon. They are planning to see how the USC product fares at right tackle, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald tweets. The Dolphins also figure to try 2021 second-rounder Liam Eichenberg on the right side, with Armstead having replaced him at left tackle. Hunt, whom PFF graded as the team’s top O-line regular last season, began his career at right tackle. But the Dolphins would prefer he stay at right guard, Jackson adds. This figures to pit Jackson and Eichenberg in a position battle. Eichenberg, who replaced Jackson on the left side last year, made 16 starts as a rookie.

Here is the latest from the O-line ranks:

  • The Cowboys made La’el Collins a cap casualty, but the team is confident in the player poised to replace him. Dallas views Terence Steele as a potential “decade-long” option at right tackle, Todd Archer of notes. A UDFA out of Texas Tech, Steele has made 27 starts over his first two seasons, subbing for both Collins and Tyron Smith. The Cowboys turned to Steele during Collins’ five-game PED suspension last year and used him as their primary right tackle starter in 2020, when Collins missed the entire season. This has given Dallas a notable evaluation period on the oft-used backup. Steele is not eligible for unrestricted free agency until 2024, giving Dallas more time to determine his future.
  • Matt Ryan will join a Colts team that houses some of the league’s best O-linemen, and Quenton Nelson is on track to join center Ryan Kelly and right tackle Braden Smith in being extended. But the team has a hole at left tackle again. With Eric Fisher unlikely to return, the Colts may not be ready to spend on a replacement. Swingman Matt Pryor stands to be given the first look at replacing Fisher, Mike Wells of notes. Pryor made guard starts for the Eagles in 2020 and started at three positions for the Colts last season, a five-start year in which he replaced Fisher, Smith and Nelson at various points. The ex-sixth-round pick is signed through the 2022 season.
  • The Jets reunited Mike LaFleur and Laken Tomlinson, giving the ex-49ers guard a three-year, $40MM deal during the legal tampering period. Tomlinson will receive $13.9MM fully guaranteed, Rich Cimini of tweets, adding that Tomlinson’s 2022 cap charge comes in at just $5.4MM. Tomlinson’s 2023 base salary ($12.7MM) shifts from an injury-only guarantee to a full guarantee on Day 5 of the 2023 league year. Tomlinson’s cap number spikes to $17.4MM in 2023.
  • The one-year, $4MM deal the Seahawks gave Austin Blythe comes with a $2.5MM signing bonus and a $1.5MM base salary, Aaron Wilson of tweets. Blythe can earn up to $500K in playing-time incentives. With Ethan Pocic unsigned, Blythe has a clear path to becoming a starting center again. The ex-Rams guard and center starter backed up Creed Humphrey throughout last season with the Chiefs.
  • Will Richardson‘s one-year Jaguars deal is worth $2MM, Wilson adds (on Twitter). Jacksonville is guaranteeing the veteran backup $975K.

Seahawks, OL Austin Blythe Agree To Deal

After a year as a Chiefs backup, Austin Blythe is heading west again. The former Rams starter agreed to a deal to join the Seahawks, Adam Schefter of tweets. It’s a one-year deal worth $4MM, Mike Garafolo of tweets. This marks Blythe’s third consecutive one-year agreement.

Blythe signed in Kansas City before the team selected Creed Humphrey in the second round. Humphrey became the Chiefs’ starting center in Week 1 and made every start at the position for the Chiefs, presenting the makings of a long-term center for the perennial AFC West champions. Blythe figures to have a better opportunity for playing time in Seattle.

The Seahawks used Ethan Pocic as their primary center last year, but the five-year veteran is a free agent. In Blythe, the Seahawks are signing a player who was a full-time starter for the Rams from 2018-20. His market did not produce much last year, however, leading him to settle for a one-year Chiefs deal.

This represents a chance for Blythe to rebuild his value and for the Seahawks to deploy a proven starter as they reconfigure their offense post-Russell Wilson. Blythe, 29, caught on with the Rams in 2017 and started 47 regular-season games with the team in his final three seasons in Los Angeles. Despite moving from guard to center in 2020, Blythe finished as the NFL’s ninth-graded snapper that season, per Pro Football Focus. He spent the previous two years at guard, giving Seattle some options.

Chiefs OL Austin Blythe Underwent Hernia Surgery

Austin Blythe recently went under the knife, but the Chiefs center should be good to go for the start of the regular season. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the offensive lineman recently had hernia surgery. Blythe is expected to be sidelined for three weeks, which means he should be healthy for Week 1.

Considering the Chiefs invested a second-round pick in Creed Humphrey, Blythe’s injury all but guarantees that the rookie will be starting in Week 1. However, that doesn’t mean Blythe will see a reduced role in 2021. The 29-year-old started 47 games for the Rams over the past three years at both guard and center, so his versatility should find him a spot in the lineup (even if he’s temporarily a backup).

After grading as PFF’s ninth-ranked center last season, Blythe ended up joining the Chiefs on a one-year deal this offseason. After starting his career with the Colts, the veteran had spent each of the past four seasons in Los Angeles.

There’s some more promising injury news for the Chiefs. Despite aggravating his hamstring during practice earlier this week, defensive end Frank Clark is only expected to miss three weeks. Pelissero notes that there’s optimism that the veteran will be ready to play Week 1. Clark has had two productive seasons in Kansas City, collecting 14 sacks, 20 tackles for loss, and 29 QB hits in 29 games (26 starts).

Chiefs To Sign OL Austin Blythe

The Chiefs are bringing in more outside help for their offensive line. They will sign former Rams starting center Austin Blythe, Tom Pelissero of tweets. It’s a one-year deal.

Blythe will join Joe Thuney and Kyle Long as Chiefs interior O-line additions this offseason. Blythe started three seasons with the Rams, doing so at both center and guard. The Chiefs had used Austin Reiter as their primary center over the past two seasons, and although the team made an offer for Reiter to return, they appear to be moving on at the position.

A full-time guard starter on the Rams’ Super Bowl LIII-qualifying team, Blythe has started 47 regular-season games since the start of that 2018 season. The former seventh-round Colts pick established himself as a quality Rams starter and will be in line to work as the Chiefs’ starting center. The Rams moved Blythe to center last season, and Pro Football Focus graded him ninth at the position.

The Rams claimed Blythe off waivers in 2017 and turned to him as a replacement for the suspended Jamon Brown in 2018. Blythe kept his job after Brown’s reinstatement and played guard in 2019 as well. The Rams re-signed Blythe last year but will lose him. Despite Sean McVay wanting the team to retain Blythe this year, Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein remain from Los Angeles’ Super Bowl O-line.

Blythe, 28, will check off a key box for the two-time reigning AFC champions, who can shift their O-line focus to the tackle positions.

Rams “Definitely” Value Austin Blythe

In a few weeks, Austin Blythe will be eligible for free agency. Ideally, Rams head coach Sean McVay would like to prevent that from happening. 

[RELATED: Rams’ Matthew Stafford On Lions Exit]

He did a great job and he’s definitely somebody that we appreciate, we value,” McVay said (via USA Today). “I think there’s going to be a lot of things that we’ve got to really navigate through as we’re trying to figure out the best way to put our team together as we figure out what is that cap? What does it look like specific to some of the things that we’re in the midst of trying to figure out? You even talk about restructuring, some of the guys that have some of those bigger deals and where we can find some of that money.”

Blythe raised his stock in 2019 as he took over for Brian Allen. The Rams re-upped him on one-year deal and he performed as a solid starter throughout the year. Centers like Corey Linsley may draw more attention on the open market, but there would be plenty of suitors for Blythe. Last year, he earned a score of 69.3 from Pro Football Focus, positioning him as the ninth-best center in the NFL.

NFC Contract Details: Funchess, Blythe, Redskins, Cardinals

We’ve got a handful of contract details to pass along. We’ll start with the latest NFC notes, all via Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle on Twitter:

  • Devin Funchess, WR (Packers): One year, $2.5MM. Includes $3.75MM in receptions, receiving yards, touchdowns incentives.
  • Austin Blythe, OL (Rams): One year. Worth $3.9MM, including $3.5MM guaranteed. $950K signing bonus, $2.95MM salary (of which $2.55MM is guaranteed).
  • Peyton Barber, RB (Redskins): Two year, $3MM. Includes $600K signing bonus. Salaries: $910K (2020), $1.14MM (2021). $150K per-game maximum roster bonus in 2020, $199K+ per-game maximum roster bonus in 2021.
  • Nate Orchard, LB (Redskins): Re-signed. One-year, $1.047MM deal. Includes $137.5K signing bonus, $910K salary.
  • Seth Roberts, WR (Panthers): One year, $3.75MM. Includes $600K signing bonus, $3.1MM salary, $50K workout bonus.
  • Marcus Gilbert, OT (Cardinals): One year, $3.75MM. $1.05MM base salary (of which only $150K is guaranteed). Up to $2.7MM in playing time incentives.
  • Max Garcia, OL (Cardinals): Re-signed. One-year, $1.25MM deal, including $600K guaranteed. Up to $190K per-game maximum roster bonus, up to $1MM in playing time incentives.
  • Cameron Fleming, OL (Giants): Signed. One-year, $3.5MM deal (as opposed to previously-reported one-year, $4MM deal). Includes $2MM guaranteed. Up to $500K per-game roster bonus, up to $500K playing time incentives.
  • Kerry Hyder, DE (49ers): One year. $1.5MM, including $550K guaranteed. Up to $250K in per-game roster bonus.

Rams To Re-Sign Austin Blythe

The Rams have seen a mass exodus of players on defense in recent days, but they’re keeping a crucial offensive piece around. The team has agreed to terms on a new one-year deal with interior lineman Austin Blythe, they announced in a release.

Blythe provides some nice versatility for the Rams, as he has started at both guard and center over the last couple of seasons. Originally a seventh-round pick of the Colts in 2016, Blythe got the axe after just one year in Indianapolis. The Rams quickly scooped him off waivers, and he’s turned into a nice find for general manager Les Snead. After serving as a reserve in 2017, Blythe started all 16 games the following year.

Jamon Brown was suspended for the first two games of 2018 so Blythe took over his starting spot at right guard, and played well enough to keep the gig even after Brown returned. He missed one game this past season with an ankle injury, but started the other 15. He started last year at guard but moved to center when Brian Allen went down with an injury. Terms of his new deal weren’t immediately available.

Rams C Brian Allen Out For Season

Rams head coach Sean McVay told reporters earlier today that starting center Brian Allen had suffered a season-ending MCL injury, according to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN. It remains unclear whether Allen’s injury could impact him next season or in the offseason, but he is definitely done in 2019.

Allen supplanted John Sullivan as the starter at center this season. While the entire Rams offensive line has struggled, Allen has played a major role in those issues. Trade deadline acquisition Austin Corbett had experience at both guard and center and seemed like a possible replacement for Allen, but instead slotted next to Allen at left guard.

When Allen left Los Angeles’ game on Sunday, starting right guard Austin Blythe slid over to center and backup Coleman Shelton replaced Blythe at right guard. Shelton was an undrafted free agent out of Washington last season who bounced between the 49ers and Cardinals practice squads before joining the Rams active roster this season.

The Rams were surely disappointed with Allen’s performance on the interior line, but are no better off with even less depth. If Los Angeles chooses to look at free agent options, Sullivan remains available on the open market.

In addition to Allen, Los Angeles could be without starting right tackle Rob Havenstein for two weeks, as veteran NFL reporter Howard Balzer tweets. Havenstein is dealing with a knee injury.

Injury Roundup: Hilton, Lions, Bolts, Rams

It’s looking like the Colts‘ passing attack will have to operate without its top weapon Sunday. T.Y. Hilton drew a doubtful designation on Indianapolis’ Friday injury report. He did not practice all week. The eighth-year wideout left the Colts’ Week 3 win with a quadriceps injury, and although the Raiders enter Week 4 ranked 30th in pass defense DVOA, the Colts went 0-2 without Hilton last season. They are already down previous starter Devin Funchess, who sits on IR. The Colts also ruled Darius Leonard out for a second straight week. The All-Pro linebacker remains in concussion protocol.

Here is the latest from the Week 4 injury front:

  • Matthew Stafford popped up on the Lions‘ injury report Friday; he’s listed as questionable with a hip malady. While Stafford should be expected to play, given that he’s played through injuries in recent years and holds the league’s third-longest active start streak among QBs with 131, this is a less-than-ideal scenario going into a key inter-conference matchup with the Chiefs. Rookie UDFA David Blough has been Stafford’s backup this season, though Jeff Driskel is now on Detroit’s 53-man roster.
  • That matchup will not include Chiefs starting running back Damien Williams, who will miss a second straight game with a knee ailment. LeSean McCoy put together two full practices this week and will likely team up with Darrel Williams, as he did last week, in Detroit.
  • Good news for the Rams‘ offense. Sean McVay said both Austin Blythe and Tyler Higbee will be available against the Buccaneers on Sunday, per Lindsey Thiry of (on Twitter). Blythe missed Los Angeles’ Week 3 game with a sprained ankle, while Higbee has been sidelined with a lung contusion.
  • Another Chargers game will unfold without their primary kicker option. The Bolts ruled out Michael Badgley for a fourth straight contest. Punter Ty Long‘s multipurpose afternoons will continue. Long made both of his field goal tries last week after missing two in Week 2.
  • Additionally for the Bolts, they will be without Mike Williams. He’s been declared out with a back injury. Travis Benjamin will head to Miami as doubtful to play, meaning Dontrelle Inman and Geremy Davis stand as the Chargers’ only two healthy auxiliary wideouts. This marks Williams’ second injury of the season. A knee problem plagued the third-year target earlier this month but did not force him to miss any time.
  • The Vikings‘ No. 2-ranked rushing attack will be tested in Chicago this week, and right guard starter Josh Kline will not play a part in the NFC North contest. The free agent acquisition will miss Sunday’s game with a concussion that kept him out of practice this week. This will end Kline’s 49-start streak. Veteran Dakota Dozier will start, per Mark Craig of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Dozier has started eight games in his six-season career, which included a Week 2 start in place of Pat Elflein.