Rams lose starting center Austin Blythe to AFC champion Chiefs

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Gary Klein
·2 min read
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Los Angeles Rams center Austin Blythe (66) during an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)
Now that Austin Blythe has agreed to terms with the Kansas City Chiefs as a free agent, the Rams will need to find a new starting center. (Kyusung Gong / Associated Press)

The Rams suffered another loss in free agency as center Austin Blythe agreed to terms Tuesday on a one-year contract with the Kansas City Chiefs, according to NFL.com.

Brian Allen, a 2018 draft pick, could replace Blythe, but Allen did not play last season while recovering from a 2019 knee injury. So, uncertainty surrounds a key position on the offensive line for a team that features new quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Allen, 25, was a rotational player as a rookie in 2018. He started nine games at center in 2019 before he was injured, and Blythe moved from guard to center. Under former offensive line coach Aaron Kromer, linemen trained at several positions. Coleman Shelton, who opted out last season, played center in college at Washington.

A few weeks ago, as the Rams prepared for the start of free agency, general manager Les Snead said Allen could step in if Blythe signed elsewhere. But his comments were tempered.

“The key that what we don't necessarily know with Brian is, how will he play, how will he play post-injury?” Snead told reporters. “That was pretty serious injury that he has gone through, and he's done a heck of a job rehabbing it. That's always going to be something he's got to do.

“But I do think [with] the center, because it's such a nuanced position of almost being the second QB on the field, it's hard just to project a rookie can do it. It's even hard just to project a player that may be with another NFL team can do it just because they will still have to learn our system and still at that point have to quickly process football within our system.”

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.