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Rams’ offensive line in flux as offseason kicks into gear

Veteran Brian Allen has been released, Kevin Dotson is headed for free agency, Coleman Shelton could become a free agent too and the team has a difficult decision to make with versatile Joe Noteboom

Rams coach Sean McVay and the front office have a lot of things to consider with free agency looming, especially as it pertains to some of their offensive linemen. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Rams coach Sean McVay and the front office have a lot of things to consider with free agency looming, especially as it pertains to some of their offensive linemen. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Sports reporter Adam Grosbard in Torrance on Monday, Sep. 23, 2019. (Photo by Scott Varley, Daily Breeze/SCNG)
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The Rams made their first roster move of the offseason on Wednesday, releasing veteran center Brian Allen.

Allen, a member of the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI championship team, will be designated as a post-June 1 cut in a move that allows him to get a head start on free agency and will save the Rams $4.8 million in salary cap space. And it’s the first of several moves along the offensive line that could come to define the Rams’ offseason.

The Rams will potentially have two starters hit free agency next month. Right guard Kevin Dotson will be an unrestricted free agent, and General Manager Les Snead expressed his desire in January to bring Dotson back if his contract number makes sense.

Center Coleman Shelton also has the ability to void the final year of his contract and enter free agency in March. The former undrafted free agency would earn a $2 million base salary along with an additional $1 million in bonuses if he opts into the last year of his deal.

But Shelton started all 18 games for the Rams this past season. He was among the better run blockers at his position in the league while allowing two sacks in 664 pass-blocking opportunities.

Speaking with reporters on a Zoom call on Thursday, Rams head coach Sean McVay said that Vice President of Football and Business Administration Tony Pastoors and Football Administration Manager Matthew Shearin are working with Shelton’s representation to work out a contract to keep him in Los Angeles, where Shelton went to school at Loyola High.

“We would really like to get him back. I would imagine that that’s the direction that they would potentially go. We’re proactively trying to get that taken care of,” McVay said. “He’s a guy we want to move forward with.”

The Rams will have to make another difficult decision with a reserve lineman.

Utility lineman Joe Noteboom is scheduled to count as a $20 million cap hit for the Rams in 2024. It would be the largest hit on the team behind quarterback Matthew Stafford, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and receiver Cooper Kupp.

The Rams could save $5 million against the cap by releasing Noteboom, who lost his starting job at right guard to Dotson in Week 5 but provided spot starts at both tackle slots down the stretch of the season.

“We’re working through all those things right now,” McVay said, praising Noteboom for his ability to move around the offensive line. “We’ll see what that looks like as it relates to his status moving forward but Joe’s been a big-time contributor and certainly we wouldn’t have done a lot of things without Joe.”

NEW STAFF

Thursday represented the first opportunity for McVay to weigh in on the new look of his coaching staff heading into the 2024 season.

At the forefront was new defensive coordinator Chris Shula, who was promoted after working in several roles across the defense throughout McVay’s seven-year tenure with the Rams.

Shula and defensive backs coaching Aubrey Pleasant were both internal candidates for the coordinator job. McVay said he was impressed by the preparation and experiences of Shula, someone he’s known since they were college teammates at Miami (Ohio).

“I think it’s helpful that he’s coached on all three levels of the defense,” McVay said. “He’s got a great vision for what he wants to look like. He’s got great organizational skills, great ability to be able to collaborate. I mentioned Aubrey and Aubrey is one of the best leaders that we have, he’s got a great charisma and a presence. And I’m really looking forward to those guys leading us.”

Other additions to the coaching staff have connections to McVay, as well. He was recruited to Tulane by new defensive line coach Giff Smith, who also was the coach that recommended his predecessor, Eric Henderson, to McVay in 2019, something for which McVay says he owes Smith a steak dinner.

And new quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone was an offensive analyst under then-coordinator McVay for one season in Washington.

“He’s got an incredible capacity for the game. Got a background as a player but an ability to communicate,” McVay said. “When you’re around him and you spend time with him, the investment that he makes in these players and the relationships that he’s able to develop that last long past when he’s worked with you says as much as you need to know about Dave.”

McVAY NAMED TO COMPETITION COMMITTEE

On Thursday, McVay was named to the NFL’s competition committee, which discusses and considers potential rule changes to present to team owners.

“Maybe I won’t burn my timeouts in the second half so early, I’ll learn about that,” McVay joked. “I’ve always been interested and intrigued about, okay, how can you affect positive change? How can you have an understanding of moving the game in the right direction? … Certainly looking forward to being able to learn and grow and see if we can help do some good things, but I was certainly flattered to be a part of that.”

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