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Rams' starting offensive line returns intact, but there is a need to plan for future

Rams' starting offensive line returns intact, but there is a need to plan for future
Rams offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth, 77, Rodger Saffold, 76, John Sullivan, 65 and Rob Havenstein, 79, prepare to play the Seahawks at the Coliseum. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

As the Rams prepare for the NFL draft, the Los Angeles Times will examine their roster. Part 5 of 8: offensive line.

The Rams' offensive line achieved a notable feat last season: The same five players started every game before coach Sean McVay decided not to risk injury in an otherwise meaningless regular-season finale.

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All five starters return: left tackle Andrew Whitworth, left guard Rodger Saffold, center John Sullivan, right guard Jamon Brown and right tackle Rob Havenstein.

But with Whitworth and Sullivan on the far end of their careers — and Saffold, Brown and Havenstein in the final year of their contracts — the Rams will be looking for offensive linemen in the April 26-28 draft regardless of whether they plan to extend the contracts of any current starters.

Drafting offensive linemen would mark a departure for a team that did not select any in 2016 or 2017.

Top prospects such as Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson, Notre Dame tackle Mike McGlinchey and others are not expected to be on the board when the Rams make their first pick at No. 87 in the third round.

Though they re-signed Sullivan in March, the Rams are in the market for a center who could learn at the veteran's elbow, and a tackle to be mentored by Whitworth.

Regardless, the Rams will be counting on their strength and conditioning staff — and luck — to keep the five starters available on game days for the second year in a row.

Offensive linemen under contract: Andrew Whitworth ($12.6 million), Rodger Saffold ($7.9 million), John Sullivan ($6.2 million), Jamon Brown ($2.1 million), Rob Havenstein ($1.2 million), Darrell Williams ($705,000), Cornelius Lucas ($630,000), Austin Blythe ($630,000), Aaron Neary ($555,000), Jake Eldrenkamp ($480,000) and Michael Dunn ($480,000).

Free agents: On Monday, the Rams re-signed Darrell Williams and Cornelius Lucas for minimum salaries. After maneuvering to make room under the salary cap for free agent defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, they probably will stick to the draft and undrafted free agents to build depth on the offensive line.

Draft: The Rams have not selected an offensive lineman since 2015, when they chose Havenstein, Brown, Andrew Donnal and Cody Wichmann. Ohio State's Billy Price played guard and center as a four-year starter, but it would be a surprise if he fell to the third round.

Roster decisions: Havenstein was a second-round pick and Brown a third-round choice, so neither can be controlled with a fifth-year option. Saffold has been with the Rams his entire career, but in the current market for offensive linemen he might be getting too expensive to sign long term.

NEXT: Receivers.

Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @latimesklein

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