Rams Free Agency: Bears Agree To Contract With Coleman Shelton

Originally published by RamsNewswire.com

The Chicago Bears have agreed to terms with former Los Angeles Rams offensive lineman Coleman Shelton, the team announced Thursday.

The Rams went into free agency hoping to retain Shelton. He agreed to a two-year contract extension with the team in 2023 with an opt out after one year, and then started all 17 games for the Rams and was part of a rebuilt offensive line that was significantly improved from the year prior. So while the Rams hoped to retain, league-wide interest was expected.

Shelton had been a starter for the Rams for the last two seasons, during a 2022 campaign that saw L.A. post the worst title defense by record in NFL history and the stunning turnaround that saw them make the postseason in 2023. Shelton has been with the Rams for three years prior, but was mainly a sixth man of the interior offensive line.

Now the Bears are hopeful to have him be a part of their own offensive line turnaround. The Bears have had one of the worst units in the league for several years now, and that did not aid in the development of quarterback Justin Fields. And while it’s uncertain who their starting quarterback is for next season — Fields or Caleb Williams, the presumptive No. 1 overall pick — they need to protect whoever it is.

For now, this move figures to bring Steve Avila, the team’s second round pick in 2023, from guard to center. The addition of Jonah Jackson in free agency signified the move for Avila as well as the expected departure of Shelton.

The Rams’ starting line currently projects as Alaric Jackson, Jonah Jackson, Avila, Kevin Dotson and Rob Havenstein. Alaric Jackson is currently a free agent, but the Rams have placed a second-round tender on him, making it very unlikely he plays elsewhere next season.

The Rams are certainly going to miss Shelton, as Sean McVay had plenty of praise for the starting center prior to free agency.

Rams place second-round tender on Alaric Jackson

The second-round tender given to Jackson by the Rams works in several ways. First, it allows them the first right of refusal to match any offer that is given to Jackson by another team while still allowing him to negotiate freely with other teams. If another team gives Jackson a contract offer and the Rams do not match it, they are entitled to a second-round pick from the team that signs him.

This also puts a deadline on Jackson signing somewhere else, as he must agree to an offer sheet from another team by April 19. Given this deadline, if another team does wind up with Jackson, the Rams would receive a second-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

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