Brian Allen

Latest On Rams’ Offensive Line

The Rams’ offensive line staffing issues extended to the point three in-season signings — Matt Skura, Ty Nsekhe, Oday Aboushi — needed to step into starting roles last season. Skura and Nsekhe ended up making eight starts for a team mired in a near-season-long blocking crisis.

None of these veterans remain with the team, as it will attempt to reconstruct a line with capabilities near the level of its 2021 Super Bowl-winning group. As of OTAs, however, only one spot appears locked down. Rob Havenstein, the only constant for Los Angeles up front last season, is on track to man the team’s right tackle spot for a ninth season. Beyond the St. Louis-era holdover, competition will ensue in the coming months.

Although the Rams re-signed Joseph Noteboom and Brian Allen last year, neither may be a lock to enter the season as a starter. Allen will compete for the center job he has held for three of the past four seasons — excepting a full-season 2020 absence — while Noteboom, per The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue will likely vie for the left tackle gig with Alaric Jackson, one of the other Rams to suffer a season-ending health issue last year (subscription required).

Noteboom, Jackson, Allen, David Edwards, Tremayne Anchrum and 2022 third-round pick Logan Bruss were lost for the season. Week 1 right guard Coleman Shelton missed time as well, leading to numerous O-line combinations during a disastrous Super Bowl title defense. Of this group, all are back except Edwards, a three-year guard starter who signed a low-cost deal with the Bills in March.

Noteboom, who signed a three-year, $39MM deal ($16.5MM fully guaranteed) to succeed Andrew Whitworth, suffered an Achilles tear in mid-October. He is not yet a full OTAs participant but is expected to be full-go by training camp. The other in-house option at left tackle, Jackson, filled in for Noteboom but did not play past Week 9 due to a blood clot issue. The Rams cleared Jackson (six 2022 starts) earlier this spring, Rodrigue notes, giving the third-year UDFA an interesting opportunity. It would stand to reason Noteboom will be favored, given his contract and previous role as Whitworth’s top backup, though Rodrigue adds the former third-round pick could be a left guard option as well. Noteboom played guard in 2019, but a season-ending injury closed that path. Jackson played both guard and tackle last season, filling in for both Noteboom and Edwards, offering flexibility for the regrouping Rams this offseason.

Allen started at center throughout the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning season but suffered a Week 1 knee injury and saw a calf ailment end his season three games early. Suffering an ACL tear midway through the 2019 season and missing all of 2020 as a result, Allen played just seven games last season. While he worked his way back from the ACL setback en route to a two-year, $10MM deal, the guarantees on that pact have been paid out. Allen figures to match up with last year’s Week 1 right guard, Shelton, at center. Pro Football Focus graded Allen as the NFL’s 10th-best center in 2021; it slotted Shelton as a bottom-tier interior lineman last year.

While Shelton (13 starts last season) will also be an option at right guard again, the Rams have used their top pick on a guard in each of the past two years. Bruss, who suffered ACL and MCL tears during a preseason game, has received clearance to return. The Rams chose TCU’s Steve Avila 36th overall. Avila should be ticketed for a starting guard role. Bruss was in competition for the right guard gig last year, but Avila’s draft slot would make it a bit of a surprise if he was not penciled in to start in Week 1. A former seventh-round pick, Anchrum has minimal game experience and is coming off a September fibula fracture. He will likely vie for a swing job.

Over the past two offseasons, the Rams have lost considerable experience. Whitworth’s retirement and the free agency exits of Edwards and Austin Corbett have created an interesting (and mostly unproven) mix here. The Rams could have re-signed Edwards for next to nothing, as he is tied to a one-year, $1.77MM contract, but they will aim to build around Avila. The team, which also added new O-line coaches (Ryan Wendell, Zak Kromer), may field a new-look front five come Week 1.

NFL Restructures: Okwara, Allen, Fatukasi

Here are a few details on recent contract restructures around the league:

  • Lions edge rusher Romeo Okwara came to an agreement to restructure his contract at the beginning of the week. According to Field Yates of ESPN, the renegotiated contract reduces his cap hit in 2023 from $14.5MM to $5.65MM.
  • After center Brian Allen reportedly agreed to a renegotiated deal, the Rams benefitted from a bit of cap relief. According to Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.com, Allen’s restructured contract saved approximately $3.2MM in cap space for Los Angeles.
  • The Jaguars were able to reach an agreement on a restructured contract with defensive tackle Folorunso Fatukasi recently. The team converted $7.38MM of Fatukasi’s base salary into a signing bonus and added three void years. The moves resulted in about $5.9MM of additional cap space in 2023.

NFC Injury Rumors: Rams, Peat, Buccaneers

Injuries continue to hamper the Rams in the final stretch of the season. News earlier this week confirmed that calf strains to center Brian Allen and wide receiver Ben Skowronek “are severe enough to sideline them for the rest of the season,” according to team staff writer Stu Jackson. That leaves Los Angeles down two more starters as the Super Bowl hangover continues.

Allen has had a disappointing season, health-wise. After missing five weeks while dealing with a knee injury early on in the year, then two more with a thumb issue, the calf strain has finally put an end to Allen’s tumultuous 2022 season. Starting guard Coleman Shelton, who has plenty of past experience at center, moved inside when Allen left last week’s game and will continue to start at center for the remainder of the season. To replace Shelton at right guard, the team will choose between backup linemen Bobby Evans, Oday Aboushi, and Zach Thomas.

Not that there was much damage left to do to the battle-worn Rams, but Skowronek is yet another damaging loss to the team. With starting receivers Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson already on injured reserve, Skowronek was Los Angeles’s leading wideout still on the active roster. With the former Notre Dame tight end joining Kupp and Robinson as out for the remainder of the year, quarterback Baker Mayfield will be passing to Van Jefferson, Tutu Atwell, Brandon Powell, Austin Trammell, and Lance McCutcheon.

Allen and Skowronek add their names to the litany of Rams’ starters who have gone down for the year. Here are a few other injury rumors from around the NFC, focusing on a couple teams in the South:

  • Saints starting guard Andrus Peat left Saturday’s win over the Browns with an ankle injury and did not return. Peat is no stranger to injuries, having struggled with them throughout his NFL career. His absence, though, puts New Orleans in a tough spot as it succeeded in remaining in the NFC South race with Saturday’s victory. Already down starting right guard Cesar Ruiz, who is out for the year with a Lisfranc injury, the Saints are having to put together a patchwork offensive line. Peat’s usual backup, Calvin Throckmorton, started the game in place of Ruiz. With backup guard Lewis Kidd inactive, New Orleans had to turn to Josh Andrews, a practice squad center who had been a gameday elevation. The severity of the injury has yet to be determined, but an extended absence from Peat would make it even more difficult for the Saints to clinch a playoff spot down the stretch.
  • The Buccaneers ruled out three starters for today’s matchup with the Cardinals, according to Greg Auman of FOX Sports. Starting tackle Donovan Smith, defensive tackle Vita Vea, and cornerback Jamel Dean have all been ruled out, as has outside linebacker Carl Nassib. With the bad news comes the good news that Tampa Bay’s other starting tackle Tristan Wirfs is expected to play today. Backup tackle Josh Wells, who was also questionable coming into this week, will likely start in place of Smith. Vea’s role should be filled by Rakeem Nunez-Roches and Dean will likely be replaced by a combination of Sean Murphy-Bunting, Dee Delaney, and Zyon McCollum.

Matthew Stafford Cleared For Week 11 Return

The Rams were on the losing end of an all-backup quarterback battle last week, but they are set to have their starter available under center on Sunday. Matthew Stafford has been removed from the team’s injury report and is in line to play against the Saints.

Stafford had missed Los Angeles’ loss to the Cardinals in Week 10 due to a concussion. He made steady progress in recent days, though, lining him up to be cleared in time for Sunday’s game. The Rams turned to backup John Wolford in Stafford’s absence, with the exception of a handful of snaps given to rookie Bryce Perkins.

Stafford being back at the helm will be a welcomed sight, despite that fact that his second season with the Rams has not gone as smoothly as his first. The 34-year-old has an 8:8 touchdown-to-interception ratio (after throwing five in the first two games, and one in three consecutive contests between Weeks 4 and 6) while averaging 46 fewer passing yards per game than 2021.

Overall, the Rams rank 17th in the league in that regard, as they have struggled mightily on offense. The run game has fared even worse, of course, but a healthy Stafford could especially be needed moving forward given the fact the the team’s most consistent contributor is now out of the picture.

Cooper Kupp‘s high ankle sprain required surgery and has landed him on IR, leaving him sidelined for at least four games. With the Rams sitting at 3-6, that has led to questions about whether the the reigning Offensive Player of the Year will see the field again in 2022. An offensive resurgence will be needed to bring the team back into playoff contention.

Stafford – who like Kupp and Aaron Donald signed a big-ticket extension this offseason – entered the campaign with concerns over his throwing elbow, though the more significant concern has become the offensive line in front of him. On that note, ESPN’s Sarah Barshop reports that neither guard David Andrews nor center Brian Allen will be available against the Saints (Twitter links). That will induce even more alterations to the injury-ravaged unit, while the Rams look to end their three-game skid with the No. 1 QB back in the fold.

Coleman Shelton To Miss Extensive Time

The injuries continue to mount for the Rams on their interior offensive line. The defending Super Bowl champions lost another starter up front, with Sean McVay indicating Tuesday that Coleman Shelton will be sidelined due to a high ankle sprain.

Shelton, who won the team’s right guard competition out of training camp, had moved to center after Brian Allen‘s Week 1 injury. Allen has not yet returned, but McVay said Shelton will face a four- to six-week return timetable as a result of the injury he sustained against the 49ers. An IR stay seems likely for Shelton.

The Rams played without their starting center (Allen) and left guard (David Edwards) against the Niners, and other options are out of the picture inside as well. The team’s top 2022 draft choice, guard Logan Bruss, suffered ACL and MCL tears in August; right guard replacement Tremayne Anchrum is also out for the year. The Rams finished with third-string options at center (Jeremiah Kolone) and right guard (Alaric Jackson) by game’s end, Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic notes (on Twitter).

A UDFA who has been with the Rams for four seasons, Shelton earned his first crack at a starting job this season. He was the team’s only interior-line constant during the first four games, playing guard and center for the injury-battered front. The Rams will need to make another adjustment before facing the Cowboys in Week 5.

The 49ers dropped Matthew Stafford seven times in Week 4, marking the second game this season in which Stafford has taken seven sacks. The Bills began the year with a seven-sack showing, doing so as the Rams lost Allen to injury. Allen underwent a knee procedure shortly after Week 1, but the Rams did not place him on IR. After missing three games, the veteran snapper should be back soon. It might not be this week, however, Rodrigue adds (via Twitter). Edwards was placed in the team’s concussion protocol over the weekend, leaving his status uncertain for the Dallas matchup. The Rams still have their tackles — Joe Noteboom and Rob Havenstein — available, though Noteboom allowed three of San Francisco’s sacks Monday.

Rams C Brian Allen Out For 2-4 Weeks

The Rams’ offensive line had a tough night in their season-opening loss to the Bills last night. Unfortunately, their job won’t get any easier as starting center Brian Allen will miss the next two to four weeks in order to undergo a knee procedure, according to Jourdan Rodrigue of The Athletic. 

Allen played the entirety of the game last night without apparent issue but requires a cleanout procedure on his knee. Allen has seen a number of ailments to his knee. He missed half of the 2019 season with a knee injury and had to earn his starting job back upon his healthy return.

After successfully topping the depth chart again in 2021, Allen was sidelined with an MCL sprain one snap into a Week 12 game against the Jaguars that would force him to miss the following game in Arizona, as well. Another knee injury forced him to leave a Week 15 matchup against the Vikings early, but he was able to return the next week and stay healthy all the way through the Super Bowl.

With Allen out, the Rams will slide starting right guard Coleman Shelton into center and Tremayne Anchrum will sub in for Shelton. Last night was just Shelton’s third career start in the NFL but he does have center experience from his time at the University of Washington.

Placing Anchrum in the starting lineup will give the former seventh-round draft pick his first career start after appearing in 13 games since being drafted in 2020. Los Angeles doesn’t have much more of a choice as third-round rookie Logan Bruss is on injured reserve with tears in his right ACL and MCL from the preseason. Past Anchrum, the Rams only have backup tackles A.J. Jackson and Bobby Evans as substitute options.

Minor NFL Transactions: 8/28/22

We will keep track of today’s minor moves right here:

Baltimore Ravens

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Las Vegas Raiders:

New Orleans Saints

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Washington Commanders

Summers is a 2019 seventh-round pick who has just one career start but who has established himself as a key contributor on Green Bay’s special teams unit over his first three seasons in the league. Ian Rapoport of NFL.com expects the TCU product to generate interest on the waiver wire (Twitter link). Indeed, Packers HC Matt LaFleur said that the team made the decision to part ways with Summers now in order to give him a chance to hook on with a new club before the wave of impending cuts that will soon flood the market (Twitter link via Rob Demovsky of ESPN.com).

The Seahawks’ decision to move Brown to the PUP list means that he will be sidelined for at least the first four games of the season. That marks a disappointing start to his second NFL campaign; the fourth-rounder had two separate IR stints last year. That limited him to just five games (three starts), during which he registered 10 tackles and one pass deflection. Seattle has seen plenty of roster turnover at the CB position this offseason, leaving Brown in line for at least a rotational role. In his absence, the team will rely even more on starters Sidney Jones and Artie Burns, with rookies Coby Bryant likely to play in the slot.

Panthers To Sign OL Austin Corbett

7:32pm: The Panthers have agreed to terms with Corbett, Jeff Howe of The Athletic reports. Carolina lands a guard with 40 starts’ worth of experience. Corbett agreed to a three-year contract worth $29.25MM, per Mike Garafolo of NFL.com (on Twitter). The deal contains $13.6MM in guaranteed money, per ProFootballNetwork.com’s Aaron Wilson (on Twitter). The first two years of his deal are fully guaranteed.

6:49pm: The Rams reached agreements to retain center Brian Allen and swing tackle Joseph Noteboom, but they may be ready to see their other free agent offensive lineman of note depart.

Austin Corbett is close to an agreement with the Panthers, Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweets. Carolina has multiple needs up front, one of those being at guard.

After a midseason trade in 2019, the former Browns second-round pick became a regular Rams starter. Corbett started every game for the past two Rams squads, including all 21 during the team’s Super Bowl-winning campaign. Operating as Los Angeles’ right guard, Corbett provided some stability at that spot as the Rams transitioned to Matthew Stafford under center and used three primary running backs last season. PFF assigned Corbett a 69.6 regular-season grade, which ranked tops among the Rams’ guards.

Carolina struggled consistently at guard, deploying John Miller (52.1) and Michael Jordan (50.8) as their primary first-stringers last season. While the Panthers encountered steady quarterback issues, their O-line did not do this collection of passers many favors.

The Panthers saw Pat Elflein play just nine games last season, though they restructured the would-be starter. Elflein-Corbett would likely be the team’s direction at guard, should the latter end up finalizing this agreement.

Rams To Re-Sign Brian Allen

Another one of this year’s top free agent centers is staying put. The Rams are bringing back Brian Allen on a three-year, $24MM contract (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

[RELATED: Rams To Re-Sign Joe Noteboom]

Allen, 26, took over as the full-time starting center in 2019. An MCL injury cut that year short, however, and kept him sidelined for the entire 2020 season. This year, he returned healthy enough to start in all 16 games he played in.

Despite allowing five sacks in just over 900 snaps, PFF viewed Allen favorably. He earned a grade of 80.2, making him one of the top options on the center market, even before the recent re-signings of Ryan Jensen and Ben Jones. It made him a strong candidate to re-up with the team, despite their limited cap space.

With this signing – along with that of presumed new starting left tackle Joe Noteboom – there will be a good deal of continuity along the Rams’ offensive line. That will be significant, as the team tries to keep as many pieces of their Super Bowl-winning roster as possible. The most notable of those on offense, of course, remains Odell Beckham Jr.

With Jensen, Jones and now Allen no longer options for outside teams, even more attention will turn to Bradley Bozeman. After one season at his more comfortable center position, his play in Baltimore may very well have earned him a lucrative second contract. Los Angeles, which could have been a suitor for him had Allen departed, will now move forward with their in-house option.

Latest On Rams’ Pending Free Agents

If the Rams hope to repeat as Super Bowl champions, they face a number of key decisions in the coming days. They have money still to be shed, but a number of free agents left to re-sign. 

The biggest names amongst said free agents are Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. The former made an impact on the Rams’ defense after being traded for mid-season. He registered five sacks in eight regular season games in L.A., adding another four in the playoffs. The 32-year-old earned himself a hefty payday, regardless of where he ends up.

According to Jordan Rodrigue of The Athletic (subscription required), the Rams may be able to keep both in the fold. She writes that the team is “confident” their offer to Miller “will be enough to convince him to stay”. She adds that said proposal is thought to be worth between $14MM and $16MM per year over a span of “perhaps” two years, though that salary figure “doesn’t seem to have a hard ceiling”. The three-time All Pro has expressed an interest in staying, but he also plans to at least test the open market, which could very well include a return to Denver.

As for Beckham, Rodrigue notes that the team is staying flexible with respect to contract offers, though it does seem inevitable he will remain there, as was previously reported. She names center Brian Allen as one more significant pending free agent the Rams could try to find the money to retain.

On the other hand, there are noteworthy players who seemed destined to land deals elsewhere, in no small part as a result of the team’s preference to keep Miller and Beckham. Among those Rodrigue predicts will find new homes is defensive tackle Sebastian Joseph-Day. The 26-year-old played a career-high 69% of snaps this year, notching three sacks. Another is cornerback Darious Williams, whom she reports could land a deal valued at upwards of $10MM per season despite a down year in 2021.

Projected to be more than $20MM over the cap at this point, the Rams clearly have work to do. If all goes according to plan, however, they could still field one of the most talented teams in the NFL next year.