When Rams head coach Sean McVay was asked about the team's up-and-down 2022 season in mid-November, he said that one of the important things was looking for the small victories.
One of McVay's examples? The toughness shown by offensive lineman Chandler Brewer prior to Brewer going on Injured Reserve with a knee injury.
"I look at Chandler Brewer the last couple weeks," McVay said on Nov. 16. "It's so unfortunate that he has a Grade Three MCL. But if you say, looking at how well he played in those two games, and the toughness that he exuded, and the confidence that he can take from that experience game, that's a small victory."
Brewer rebounded from that knee injury and returned in late December, helping provide continuity toward the end of the season on an offensive line decimated by injuries. Now, he is scheduled to become a restricted free agent when the new league year begins on March 15.
So, what's next for Brewer and the Rams?
As discussed in the previous Free Agent Spotlight, that's primarily dictated by what restricted free agency entails.
Teams can place various one-year tenders with draft compensation and/or right of first refusal attached on a restricted free agent, but even when tendered, that player can still negotiate with another team. If the player signs an offer sheet from another team and his original team declines to match it, the original team is entitled to the corresponding draft compensation, unless it is a right of first refusal tender only.
The deadline for placing those tenders is prior to 1 p.m. pacific time March 15 – the start of the new league year. If a team withdraws that qualifying offer, the player becomes an unrestricted free agent. If it does extend one of those qualifying offers, the player has until April 21 this year to sign an offer sheet, while his original team has until April 26 to exercise right of first refusal.
Thus, one option is for L.A. to tender Brewer, who began the season on the practice squad then capitalized on the playing time he received after being moved to the active roster. Upon returning from injury, he was part of the starting offensive line combination in Weeks 17 and 18 that helped running back Cam Akers close out the season with three-straight games of 100 or more rushing yards.
If the Rams decide to go in a different direction and not bring back Brewer, Alaric Jackson could be a potential internal replacement, who has experience at both guard (four starts) and tackle (one start). Another internal option could be Logan Bruss, who competed with Coleman Shelton for the starting right guard job in training camp but saw his rookie year end prematurely with a torn ACL sustained in the preseason. As is the case with any position, Los Angeles could also opt to go the external route and find a replacement via free agency or the draft.