Rams would like to bring Tim Barnes back at center

INDIANAPOLIS -- Lost in the discussion of the Los Angeles Rams' pursuit of retaining the majority of their secondary and key defensive free agents is the fact that they also have a starter on the offensive line set to become an unrestricted free agent.

Center Tim Barnes, who earlier this offseason said he hopes to remain with the team that gave him his first starting opportunity, is also set to hit the open market when the new league year begins in March.

And while the potential for adding an upgrade at the position is possible, Rams general manager Les Snead said Thursday that the team would like to keep Barnes around.

"The plan at center is, hey, I’ll give Tim Barnes credit, he’s one of those guys we’d like to get back," Snead said. "At the end of the day, we didn’t think he was a weak link so we definitely want to get him back."

The Rams spent five total draft picks on offensive linemen last year, and that unit improved as the season went on with Barnes manning the middle. That came after Barnes signed a one-year, $1 million deal after the team didn't offer him a tender as a restricted free agent.

For the most part, Barnes was solid if unspectacular. He started all 16 games in 2015, proving durable as he played 913 snaps, well over the 266 he'd played from 2012-2014.

Keeping Barnes means having some continuity on the line -- an attractive prospect, according to Snead.

"I think the center and the QB thing is very important," Snead said. "There’s a lot of continuity on our line and a lot of things in terms of our young offensive linemen so sometimes you want to keep that heartbeat, that brain in check so that all the other guys can kind of fall in line and be communicated with and not have to learn new communication."

Beyond Barnes, the only other option on the roster is Demetrius Rhaney, a player the Rams hoped would push for the center job last year but finished second in an open competition during training camp.

Snead said Rhaney figures into the mix again as well.

"The answer is yes because you can take Rhaney’s history coming from a smaller level of competition and going through an injury, the more chances he can get to get better is going to give him a chance to overcome where he came from," Snead said. "So that’s a yes."