November 11, 2012; San Francisco, CA, USA; St. Louis Rams tackle Rodger Saffold (76) blocks San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith (99) during the fourth quarter at Candlestick Park. The 49ers and the Rams tied 24-24. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
It is officially free agency week, the next best thing in the offseason next to draft week. The Rams have yet to cut any of their players or re-sign any for that matter. The biggest free agent that the Rams have to worry about on their roster in offensive tackle/guard Rodger Saffold.
For the two sides it is pretty much now or never. Either the Rams make the effort to re-sign him this week before the free agency period or a deal doesn’t get done and Rodger Saffold leaves.
Over the past two offseasons the Rams have failed to re-sign two big free agents and let them walk. Those free agents being running back Steven Jackson and wide receiver Danny Amendola. Saffold could very well add himself to that list.
The Rams made a small effort at the scouting combine in Indianapolis, talking to representatives of Saffold, but no official contract offer was made. Instead Saffold gained interest from other teams which isn’t good for them if they want to get Saffold at their price.
According to Rams Insider Nick Wagoner, NFL player agent Marc Lillibridge joined 101 ESPN radio in St. Louis last Wednesday and gave his thoughts on Saffold’s price tag.
“I know he’s got a lot of grief,” Lillibridge said. “I know he’s done a lot with injuries and whatever else. I bet you Rodger Saffold gets Jake Long‘s contract or better if he hits free agency. From everybody I’ve talked to at the combine, people like Rodger Saffold. He’s an underappreciated person around here … there’s a lot of value in him.”
In case you forgot, the Rams signed Long last offseason in free agency to a four-year, $34 million contract with $16 in guaranteed money. With Long tearing his ACL it is likely that Long won’t be getting all of that contract.
What that does say though is that other teams are valuing Saffold as a top, Pro-Bowl left tackle in this league, and that’s not where the Rams value him at all. The Rams see him as a top guard that can switch over to right tackle if necessary, and that’s exactly what Saffold doesn’t want.
What the Rams do with Saffold remains a mystery. What is known is that general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher have both said that re-signing Saffold this offseason was the “number-one priority”.
The fact of the matter is however, that it just doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. If Long was out of the picture, the Rams would have a small shot, but given that Saffold won’t be playing left tackle of the Rams anytime soon, and that they don’t value him as high as other teams, Saffold, like Jackson and Amendola, may end up leaving the Gateway City.
I’ve stated this numerous times, there if the Rams cut guard Harvey Dahl and center Scott Wells, there is no doubt that the Rams can afford what Saffold is asking for, but the Rams will not overpay him. Snead and Fisher would rather find a guy to replace Saffold in the draft than overpay a player and get stuck in the big contract.
Saffold has played well when he is on the field and not hurt, but he is injury prone and has only played an entire season once in his NFL career. In fact last season he only started nine games for the Rams but played in some role in 12.
The Rams would like to retain Saffold and fans would like to have him back, but this is a situation where Snead and Fisher have to be cautious. Some team is going to overpay Saffold, and the Rams can’t afford to do that. He is injury prone, and believe it or not his is replaceable.
In the scenario that a team does want to pay Saffold the big bucks, the Rams will probably let him walk. As of right now, it looks like the tower is leaning more to the side of Saffold leaving than returning to the team. Snead does have a way of doing this quietly, and nothing is official until the papers are signed.