Rams

RAMS HAVE SIGNED FA OT ANDREW WHITWORTH

Early Thursday morning, hours before unrestricted free agents can formally sign with other teams, the Los Angeles Rams addressed their most pressing need: Protecting QB Jared Goff’s blind side.

The Rams have agreed to terms with veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth, solidifying a position that has been a problem for quite a while. Whitworth, 35, has spent his previous 11 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and has gone to the Pro Bowl three times. Now he joins the Rams, whose offensive line struggled mightily to protect Goff or open up holes for Todd Gurley throughout the 2016 season.

Terms: Three years and $36 million, with $15 million guaranteed, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In Year 2, $2.5 million is guaranteed.

Grade A: The Rams get an A for this, and the cost doesn’t mean all that much. That’s how important the left tackle position was. For three years, they tried to make it work with Greg Robinson, the No. 2 overall pick from 2014, and they clearly needed to move on. And considering what they gave up to select Goff first overall in last year’s draft, it was crucial that they brought in somebody who can protect him. Keep in mind: Goff was sacked 25 times over the last six games last season, including seven in the regular-season finale. That can’t continue to happen. Whitworth was the best left tackle available — Rick Wagner, rated higher than him, plays on the right side — and the Rams did what it took to get him. Good on them.

What it means: It means the Rams now have the flexibility to move Robinson elsewhere, either to right tackle or right guard. They have one year left on his rookie contract — unless they pick up his fifth-year option — and can experiment with such a move before he becomes a free agent. Robinson’s 6-foot-5, 332-pound athletic frame screams left tackle. But he can also maul people at guard, without the responsibility of being on an island. Robinson struggled with that responsibility, committing an NFL-leading 31 total penalties over the last two years. But if he can be more comfortable at right guard — and if right tackle Rob Havenstein can bounce back from a surprisingly rough second season and Rodger Saffold can lock down the left guard position — then the Rams may suddenly have the makings of an adequate offensive line.

What’s the risk? It’s all about the age here, of course. Whitworth is heading into his age-36 season and is the league’s oldest left tackle. But he has also been to the Pro Bowl each of the last two years, including being named first-team All-Pro in 2015, and is still considered among the NFL’s best pass-blockers. Pro Football Focus graded Whitworth the second-best left tackle in the NFL last season, trailing only the Redskins’ Trent Williams. So, yes, he’s still elite. The other risk is that it doesn’t leave the Rams with all that much cap space to get a receiver, though that can easily be freed up by releasing others. The Rams are still hopeful of getting a receiver through free agency. With $16.74 million going to cornerback Trumaine Johnson under the franchise tag, the Rams went into the Whitworth signing with about $20 million in salary-cap space.

17 Comments

  1. Like the signing. Above average pro at a key position. Helps Goff and Gurley and is a locker room presence and potential mentor for a young OL.

    If they can get a Center who knows. They really need to upgrade their Center position!

  2. OldSchool

    I was hesitant though to give this money to a 35 year old lineman.

    It is a valid concern IMO.

    I am more interested to see how Grob embraces his position move. One of the last interviews he had he didnt seem overly enthusiastic about the possibility of moving to guard.

  3. I haven't been on the Whitworth bandwagon at all but I'm glad we signed him. Upgrades the OLine and locker room. I was hesitant though to give this money to a 35 year old lineman.

  4. PhxRam

    I cant see him replacing Hav and I am not really keen on the idea of having Grob and Hav together on the right side.

    Yeah, my ideal situation at this point is Whitworth – Robinson – Highly Drafted Center – Saffold – Havenstein.

    Saffold has played well at RG before.

  5. dyvkxNice start to free agency I think.

    Having a legit LT signed out of the gate is just as good as landing a top flight WR IMO. Lineman make playmakers.

  6. Looks like the Rams are utilizing free agency proper this off-season. Some what suprised they landed Whitworth. I like it though.

    Also like moving GRob to Guard, that's where his style of play should fit better. He was just never fluid at LT.

  7. I cant see him replacing Hav and I am not really keen on the idea of having Grob and Hav together on the right side.

  8. Boffo97

    It's the only thing that makes sense, given the only other options as far as I can see would be moving him to RT, where Havenstein is just fine if healthy or somehow trading him and getting his guaranteed salary off their books. And the latter is ruled out since the new OL coach would almost certainly want a crack at him to try to see if he can get out of him what Boudreau couldn't.

  9. It's the only thing that makes sense, given the only other options as far as I can see would be moving him to RT, where Havenstein is just fine if healthy or somehow trading him and getting his guaranteed salary off their books. And the latter is ruled out since the new OL coach would almost certainly want a crack at him to try to see if he can get out of him what Boudreau couldn't.

  10. I am not sure if this is speculation on his part or if he was told that Grob will move to guard.

  11. PhxRamI wonder if this means GRob to guard and Saffold released?

    Or GRob to guard, Saffold as other guard.

    RG was a hole last year and Saffold did more to deserve a roster spot this year than Jamon Brown or anyone else they tried over there.

  12. I have to assume with this signing that we either have a trade partner for Tru or someone is getting cut. There is no way we are going to land a first tier WR with 7 mill left in cap space.

  13. Good. This was starting to feel like last offseason when we did nothing for most of FA and our star pickup was Coty Sensabaugh…

Leave a Reply

Close