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How should the Rams handle LT Alaric Jackson’s pending free agency?

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By: JasonDalessandro

Photo by Cooper Neill/Getty Images

The undrafted tackle has struggled with injuries, but has been a solid player for the team when on the field

The Los Angeles Rams offensive line play improved tremendously from 2022 to 2023. Unfortunately, three out of the starting five lineman are expected to test free agency, as well as their main rotational backup, Joe Noteboom. The team also recently let go of backup center Brian Allen in a cap saving effort. The Rams are expected to try and workout deals with right guard Kevin Dotson, who was one of the best guards statistically last season, as well as center Coleman Shelton, but one player that gets lost in the mix is left tackle Alaric Jackson.

While Jackson was not a top-10 left tackle in the NFL last season, he did prove that he was clearly the best left tackle on the roster. His PFF score of 66.2 won’t blow anyone away, but he did allow only one sack for the entire season and was penalized just three times. He is also just 25-years-old, and could continue to develop with more on field experience.

Durability has always been one of Jackson’s biggest issue, as he has dealt with injuries most of his young career, only playing in 12 games his first two years. Last season though, Jackson was able to beat out incumbent starter Joe Noteboom for the starting job in training camp, and went on to play in 15 out of 17 games at left tackle.

While there’s hope the Rams will work out a deal with at least one or two of their pending free agent offensive linemen, there is a scenario where LA could potentially lose Shelton, Dotson and Noteboom, with Allen already gone too. Signing Jackson could be a cheap move to at least bring back one offensive lineman that the team is familiar with.

Philadelphia Eagles v Los Angeles Rams
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Los Angeles actually has some options with Jackson too. They could opt to sign him to an outright extension, however the more likely scenario is that the team will place a tender of some sort on him. A first-round tender would force the Rams to pay Jackson $6.822 million for the 2024, and would probably guarantee that the left tackle would be back in Los Angeles, considering that most other teams would not be willing to lose a first-rounder in an effort to sign him away from LA. At $6.8 million for the season though, it may be more of a cap hit than the team is willing to give up for Jackson.

The more-likely scenario is that Los Angeles will place a second-round tender on Jackson. It would only cost the team $4.89 million for 2024, which is a very team friendly price for a starting caliber left tackle, and it’s more realistic to think another team may try to put in a competitive offer for him. Not that the Rams would specifically want to lose Jackson, but a second-round pick in return for him would not be a bad consolation prize at all.

Jackson earned the starting role last season, however no one would disagree that left tackle play could still be improved. With free agency around the corner, and the Rams having a plethora of draft picks including 19th overall, LA could go a different direction at the position. That said, I believe Jackson will be back with the team in some capacity next season.