The NFL Draft is months away and we won’t know a darn thing as to what the Rams are thinking until the moment they walk up to the podium at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. Something much closer to the present than May is free agency.
Decisions are being made as we speak (er, type) regarding what a player’s value is to their respective team. And on the Rams there is one name above all who will command most of the discussion this offseason.
No, it’s not Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Rodger Saffold has been a very nice, sometimes dominant, player along the Rams offensive line after getting drafted in the second round back in 2010. Injuries kept him off the field much more than the organization would have liked but there’s no denying his obvious talents.
It’s also possible this past season gave the biggest clue as to just how valuable Saffold is. The 25-year old was forced to play guard due to injury issues with Harvey Dahl and it was there that the Indiana alum blossomed. Saffold played so well at guard that head coach Jeff Fisher said he thinks his future is at that position.
Saffold, clearly, would prefer tackle due to the financial value tackles have compared to guards. But that doesn’t change the fact he showed an amount of versatility previously unknown to the Rams.
So how does this factor into what they offer him this offseason? Let’s not forget, the other 31 teams in the NFL are going to have a crack at him too and depending on his value to them his price could skyrocket.
His market will hinge on a few factors. First, health. How many teams out there will be willing to pay premium dollar for a guy that just hasn’t stayed healthy consistently? That’s hard to gauge right now because each team (and each team’s respective medical report) will vary.
Second, what will the market look like for offensive linemen? Guys like Eugene Monroe (Baltimore), Branden Albert (Kansas City) and Alex Mack (Cleveland) all have expiring contracts. But we don’t yet know if any of them will either be resigned by their respective teams or if they’ll be slapped with the franchise tag which forces them to play on a one year deal - for a salary equivalent to the average of the top five players at their position.
What does this all mean? Well, Saffold would prove to be a huge boost for the Rams should he return to St. Louis. Jeff Fisher could plug him in at either guard or tackle and let the rest of the offseason determine which one he actually plays. They wouldn’t necessarily be forced to take a tackle, per se, at the top of the draft in May.
No one knows exactly what Saffold is thinking. He could be dead set on returning to left tackle and will go anywhere that offers him that chance. He could be in love with the Rams and want to return no matter what.
It’s hard to say what will happen. But his value to the team is fairly significant due to the unknown among the rest of the line and his newly discovered versatility.