Rams Called ‘Best Fit’ for a ‘Close-Quarters Mauler’ From Broncos

Dalton Risner

Getty Dalton Risner on September 12, 2022 in Seattle.

A “close-quarters mauler” has been called the “best fit” for the Los Angeles Rams with the 2023 free agency cycle less than 25 days away. And this unrestricted free agent mentioned by ESPN’s Matt Bowen on Tuesday, February 21 comes in as the 45th best one available come March 15.

Dalton Risner got labeled as one who’s capable of reinstalling a nasty tone on the offensive line inside the “Rams House.” The offensive guard is at the end of his four-year, $7,142,284 contract with the Denver Broncos — where he had to face former Rams safeties coach Ejiro Evero’s schemes in practices when Evero was defensive coordinator. While the Rams appear limited financially, Bowen still believes adding the 27-year-old will bolster a needed area: The inside of the Rams’ offensive line.

“The Rams are cash-strapped, but they would be wise to make some room for Risner to bolster the interior of the offensive line. He’s a close-quarters mauler at left guard who displays a strong and rugged play-style,” Bowen wrote.

The insider included that Risner ranked in the top 10 in a key category that can appeal to new offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur and offensive line coach Ryan Wendell.

“Risner ranked 10th in the league in run block win rate this past season among guards (74.4%) and he can set an anchor in pass pro. Los Angeles must fix their offensive line issues after giving up 59 sacks (third most),” Bowen said.

Risner Experienced Heated Moment at SoFi

The last time Risner was inside SoFi Stadium, it was for a not-so-happy highlight moment. And it was much more than the 51-14 shellacking at the hands of the Rams on Christmas Day.

Risner was the lineman involved in the heated shouting match between him and backup quarterback Brett Rypien during the 37-point loss — with Risner shoving Rypien on the sidelines as the QB confronted him.

Risner and the Broncos additionally were 0-2 inside the crystallized venue in Inglewood, as they lost in overtime to the rival L.A. Chargers on October 17 19-16. So the next time Risner heads to SoFi, it could be in a new uniform and possibly erasing the 0-2 mark of 2022.

Risner’s Presence & Value

Despite being on the losing end of those SoFi contests plus witnessing a head coaching change following the Rams blowout loss, Risner still became one of the more productive trench performers for the Broncos.

The national analytics website Pro Football Focus handed Risner’s the fifth-best blocking grade of the 2022 season at 72.6. But that rating was still the best mark among interior offensive linemen for the Broncos.

The 6-foot-5, 312-pounder also had a solid season protecting the quarterback by surrendering just three sacks on 598 pass block attempts per PFF. He’s also one who rarely misses work as he’s started in 62 of his 66 career NFL games since entering the league in 2019 as a second rounder from Kansas State.

Risner has positioned himself as an intriguing guard option for teams seeking inside trench help. The fact he’s a top 45 free agent by ESPN makes him more appealing. But what could the Rams offer if they make a dash at him?

Per Spotrac, Risner is projected to have a calculated market value of $9.5 million annually. And his maximum projected contract is four years worth up to $38.2 million.

While the Rams have been big spenders in free agency as their fan base knows, they’ve rarely given that kind of contract to a guard. The team would also have to clear up significant cap space (currently over $14 million via Over The Cap) to lure him in.

But still, Risner is one of the best options out there to improve a unit that had a rough year. Adding Risner could give LaFleur, Wendell and head coach Sean McVay a much needed mauler to strike fear into the hearts of defensive linemen.

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