Rodger Saffold began his career at LT for the St. Louis Rams and dominated from the start. Since then the injury bug has gotten the best of him missing 17 of 48 games from 2011-2013. The signing of Jake Long forced Saffold over to RT to start the season where the Rams were hopeful that he could perform at a high level. Instead he was injured early in the season and replaced by Joe Barksdale who displayed more than sufficient ability to excel with consistent play.
After Saffold returned from the injury he was being eased back in by rotating at RT with Barksdale serving as the starter. Then Harvey Dahl‘s injury left an open spot at RG where Saffold would step in and perform at a Pro Bowl level. His combination of size, athleticism, and footwork is rarely found on the interior of the line. Even though Saffold might have been agitated by all of the shifting and shuffling on the line his positive attitude kept him from voicing any opinion about the situation.
Long’s injury led to a mid-game switch late in the season, and Saffold moved over to LT like it was riding a bicycle. He can play any of four positions on the line without a doubt, but his play at guard is what grabbed my attention. I believe that his future should be at guard moving forward because of his combination of skills that would make him an All-Pro. Rams HC Jeff Fisher has stated, “Rodger’s a tremendous athlete, and when healthy you could put him up there with some of the best in the league.” He even went on to say that Saffold’s future would be better at either guard position.
His ability to pull and block linebackers from the guard position is impressive for his 330-pound frame. He was able to pull and strike linebackers backward clearing holes for rookie RB Zac Stacy to follow. Saffold’s agent Alan Herman seems to think that he will be a valued commodity in free agency and I agree. Saffold’s play this year spoke loudly with the three positions he was able to play. His versatility and ability make him a top option for any team searching for a guard or tackle. One thing is clear for Saffold; he wants to go somewhere that he has a set position and can hopefully become an All-Pro there.
That’s not a lot to ask for when you have the skill to pick your position in free agency. However, if he prefers a tackle position he probably won’t be paid at an elite level. Being a guard might not garner him as much money as a tackle position would, but he might get a longer contract laced with incentives. The Rams could franchise tag him for next season, but nearly $9 million on a lineman is too costly for a Rams team strapped with salary cap issues and other offensive linemen needing to be re-signed. He has a serious injury history when it comes to playing either tackle position. At guard he was healthy and one of the best players on the line. The Rams need to sign Saffold if they want to have a solid line next year to protect Bradford. They just might have to overpay to keep his services in a city where he is well liked for his personality, play, and contributions to the community.