The Los Angeles Rams announced that they have tendered contracts to a pair of exclusive rights free agents in linebacker Travin Howard and offensive lineman Coleman Shelton.
A player qualifies as an exclusive rights free agent when their contract expires in less than three seasons. The deal prevents them from negotiating with other teams after being brought back on a one-year deal for the league minimum.
Howard was taken in the seventh round of the 2018 NFL Draft following a stellar career at TCU. He made his bones as a solid contributor on special teams and was slated for an increased role on defense until a knee injury in training camp sidelined him for the 2020 campaign.
As great as the defense was last season, the linebacker corps will likely be a point of emphasis this offseason given its notable deficiencies. Howard will likely have an opportunity to once again compete for quality snaps after Micah Kiser, Kenny Young and Troy Reeder each struggled to find their footing on the inside.
Shelton entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of Washington and nearly toured the entire NFC West Division before settling in Los Angeles prior to the 2019 season. Like Howard, he established a role for himself on special teams while serving as the backup center to Austin Blythe and Brian Allen.
Blythe is among the more notable unrestricted free agents that are set to hit the market once the new year begins on March 17. His potential departure would open the door to a competition between Shelton and any other centers they bring in through free agency or the 2021 NFL Draft.
It is no secret that the Rams have high expectations going into next season despite all the ongoing changes to both their roster and coaching staff. Howard and Shelton could have a chance to prove plenty of bang for their buck.