The Los Angeles Rams will put a focus on the center position this offseason. With Austin Blythe hitting free agency, the team could look to replace him in with another signing or in the draft. Either way, the Rams will have to look at cheap options with the limited cap space that they’ll be working with.
Corey Linsley will be too expensive. However, that doesn’t leave them completely option-less either. The Rams had success going after a veteran center in 2017. One player that they could take a look at that fits that bill is Atlanta Falcons center, Alex Mack.
Alex Mack Career-to-date
Alex Mack solidified himself as a top center in the NFL in Cleveland with the Browns. Drafted with the 21st overall pick in 2009, Mack quickly became one of the best centers in the league. He made his first of six Pro Bowls in 2010 and was a second-team all-pro selection in 2013.
In 2016, Mack left the Browns and headed to Atlanta in hopes of playing for a contender. Mack was named a second-team all-pro in back-to-back seasons in 2016 and 2017 as he became a top-5 center. He was also named to the NFL’s 2010s all-decade team.
He’s started all but 13 games in his 12 year career, starting all 16 games all but twice. While Mack is still a big name, his age is starting to show. At 35-years old, Mack posted his worst pass-blocking grade according to Pro Football Focus. His run-blocking grade was also his worst since 2014.
Mack has allowed 20 or more pressures in each of the last two seasons. His 15 QB hits allowed over the last two years is as many as he gave up in the previous four years combined.
How would Alex Mack fit with the Rams
The Rams have had success adding veterans to their offensive line. In 2017 they added John Sullivan and Andrew Whitworth. Sullivan had a solid first season and Whitworth is returning for his fifth year with the team. If the Rams signed Mack it would be to add a veteran presence at center. That’s crucial with a veteran quarterback like Matthew Stafford.
Mack wouldn’t be the long-term solution, but a one or two year deal would be perfect. The Rams are in a position to win now and adding a veteran presence to replace Blythe allows them to do just that. The Rams could still draft someone to learn behind Mack or play guard. Mack would essentially be a gap-center, which is what the Rams need. This would allow the younger player to learn and then eventually take over at center if Mack’s play were to dip significantly.
Free Agency Outlook
The big question for Mack is how much does he still have left in the tank. He’s 35 years old and is coming off of arguably his worst season as a pro. While he is a cheap option, would a team be signing a big name who now has limited ability? The Rams might want to move on from Blythe, but they also need to make sure that they aren’t sacrificing quality.
This late in his career, Mack could opt to re-sign with the Atlanta Falcons and end his career there. The San Francisco 49ers could also be a team that is interested as well as potentially Green Bay.
Pro Football Focus has his market value as one-year, $6M. That might be a little on the pricier end for a team like the Rams, but they might be able to structure it in a way like they did Leonard Floyd’s contract last season.