St. Louis Rams’ Offensive Line Goes From Disaster to Potential Excellence with One Failed Physical
There was plenty of worry over the state of the St. Louis Rams after it was revealed on day one of the NFL free agency free-for-all that versatile lineman Rodger Saffold signed a deal with the Oakland Raiders. Given Jake Long’s late-season torn ACL and uncertain status coming into 2014, the blindside protection for quarterback Sam Bradford was very much in question. All it took was one failed physical to turn all of that gloom and doom into euphoria.
After a disagreement from Raiders over the condition of his shoulder, Saffold has found his way back to St. Louis in ridiculous fashion. A little bit of luck goes a long way, and for a team trying to gain traction in the league’s toughest division (NFC West), that couldn’t be any more valid.
As for the particulars of the deal, the Rams get Saffold back on a five-year deal worth $31.7 million with $19.5 million in guaranteed money. When the Raiders shelled out five years and $42.5 million just 24 hours earlier for his services, it goes without saying that the Rams are getting an absolute gift.
The offensive line was already turning the page from Harvey Dahl after he was released due to a hefty cap number, and the aforementioned injury to Long combined with Saffold’s presumed departure left the team down three starters off the bat. Considering that last season’s starting guard Chris Williams signed with the Buffalo Bills and versatile reserve Shelley Smith is being courted by multiple teams, the Rams needed to do some serious retooling in the trenches.
Though the loss of Williams will hurt, the damage may be dampened a bit if the rumors of the Rams having interest in Tampa Bay Buccaneers cap casualty Davin Joseph are proven true. He may be 30 years of age, but Joseph brings a pedigree of two Pro Bowls and consistent play when he can remain healthy. Adding some veteran presence to the league’s youngest roster set to get even younger in the 2014 NFL Draft would be an amazing asset.
It’s still a long climb up the totem pole in the NFC West, but the Rams certainly got a boost by keeping Saffold in the trenches. With another economical addition in free agency and a body or two in the draft, this unit that looked certain to be a disaster appears set to become a serious strength in 2014.
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