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Rams could make changes on offense following disappointing 2019

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THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Rams' offense lost its way last season but will attempt to correct course in 2020.

Following a 9-7 season, the offense will continue under the direction of Rams coach Sean McVay but will also receive plenty of input from new offensive coordinator Kevin O'Connell.

Similar to last season, the Rams are scheduled to return each skill position starter. It wouldn't be shocking, however, if some shake-ups are made this offseason.

The offensive line, like in 2019, is the biggest concern as it could potentially undergo another round of changes because of two experienced players who are scheduled to reach free agency next month.

Here's a look at questions facing each offensive position group this offseason.

Quarterbacks

Can quarterback Jared Goff return to form? And who will back him up?

There's no debate, last season was a disappointment for Goff, who passed for 22 touchdowns, with 16 interceptions and had a total QBR of 48.5, which ranked 23rd in the NFL.

Goff's upcoming fifth season is already notable because of his $36 million salary cap hit -- the largest cap hit in the NFL. While Goff, who turns 26 in October, attempts this season to find the path he set in 2018 -- when he passed for 32 touchdowns, with 12 interceptions, and helped lead the Rams to Super Bowl LIII -- he must do so in the midst of another transition.

O'Connell represents the fourth change at offensive coordinator since Goff was drafted in 2016 and the new OC also will work closely with Goff as a quarterbacks coach -- his fifth in five seasons.

The Rams signed Blake Bortles last season to a one-year, $1 million contract and Bortles is scheduled for free agency next month. It's uncertain how much Bortles can earn on the open market after five uneven seasons starting for the Jacksonville Jaguars, followed by minimal playing time last season.

Running backs

Perhaps no group caused as much confusion about the Rams' offensive identity last season than the running backs. An unstable offensive line was part of it, but the game plans, which relied on Goff and a platoon of backs, did not provide the group any favors. That must change in 2020.

Todd Gurley is unlikely to ever appear as the same breakaway, hurdling star that he was in 2018, but that doesn't mean he can't be the offensive focal point. The Rams' chances of winning correlate directly to the number of touches Gurley receives.

Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson were expected to play significant supporting roles last season, but both were hindered because of an unstable offensive line and injuries. It will be interesting to monitor how touches are dispersed between the three backs moving forward.

Receivers

The Rams are scheduled to return their trio of starting receivers -- Brandin Cooks, Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp -- for a third consecutive season, but it wouldn't be entirely surprising if this group underwent change.

Cooks is in the midst of a five-year, $81 million contract, and while his speed provides a dynamic difficult to replicate, his production last season (42 catches for 583 yards and two touchdowns) did not match that of a No. 1 receiver. That was, in part, because of the multiple concussions he sustained, causing him to miss three games. Cooks' history of head injuries could play a part in the Rams' decision about his future.

After experiencing a midseason lull, and missing a game because of what he cited as a family issue, Woods took his play to a new level in the final six weeks of last season. He is expected to return as a go-to target for Goff.

Kupp shined through the first half of last season, highlighted by a 220 receiving-yard performance in a Week 8 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Now, as he enters the fourth and final season of his rookie contract, the former third-round pick is due a lucrative extension.

Josh Reynolds remains as a solid option as a fourth receiver. He also is entering the final season of his rookie deal.

Tight ends

The 4-year, $29 million contract the Rams awarded Tyler Higbee before last season raised a few eyebrows, until Higbee produced a breakout December that included four games with more than 100 receiving yards. He is now one of the most intriguing Rams players to watch entering next season.

Higbee's extension and subsequent breakout leaves Gerald Everett's future with the Rams in question as he enters the final season of his four-year rookie contract. After overcoming a knee injury that sidelined him three games, Everett played a minimal role in the final two games.

Offensive line

The Rams' offensive line struggled last season and could be a concern again in 2020, especially since veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth and guard/center Austin Blythe are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents next month.

Without a clear-cut choice to replace Whitworth, the Rams must consider re-signing the 38-year-old. Last season, Whitworth earned a $10.3 million base salary. Finding a number that works for both sides must be a priority, but the Rams can't overpay. Whitworth has some leverage given the Rams have no clear choice to replace him.

Blythe, who has played left guard, right guard and center in his three seasons with the Rams, is expected to test the free-agent market.

It remains to be seen how the Rams handle the situation at right tackle. Rob Havenstein regressed last season before suffering a knee injury that kept him sidelined several weeks. Havenstein returned to practice as a full participant in Week 15 but remained inactive for the final three games.

As for the rest of the line? Bobby Evans showed steady improvement at right tackle in seven games and it appeared that David Edwards solidified a future at right guard and Austin Corbett provides an option at left guard.

Left guard Joe Noteboom, who was drafted in 2018 as the eventual replacement for Whitworth, and center Brian Allen are expected to return from season-ending knee injuries.

Expect this group to be under construction deep into training camp.