What a bizarre 24 hours.
The Oakland Raiders apparently landed free agent guard Rodger Saffold on a $42.5 million with $21 million guaranteed over five years. And then Mark Davis apparently thought more about what had happened ... or maybe he just spent some time on Twitter. Either way, he didn't like the deal his GM, Reggie McKenzie, handed out for a starting guard.
According to a Raiders source Mark Davis pulled plug on Saffold deal. Could have had surgery and been ready for training camp. Mark said no— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) March 13, 2014
Jim Thomas has more on what happened in Oakland. Saffold's agent told Thomas that the Raiders' doctors said he was fine after the physical.
But at any rate, the Raiders' embarrassment was the Rams' gain.
Last year, the Rams made a big move in free agency to shore up the offensive line, signing four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long to a four-year, $34 million contract with $16 million guaranteed. It was big money, but the Rams got a relative break on the guaranteed money, especially at the left tackle position.
In the first year of Long's deal, he had a cap hit of $4.25 million. According to Jason Chilton's Dollar Value Performance calculations, Long produced an overall value of $5.66 million last year, generating more than $1.4 million in surplus value. That's a steal for the Rams, but he he three more years left on his deal.
Saffold signed a five-year, $31.5 million deal with $19.5 million guaranteed. Yes, much has been made of his versatility, but he's re-signing with the Rams primarily to play right guard (though he might get some time at left tackle if Long isn't ready to start the season).
Teams haven't placed as high of a value on guards, for the most part ... until Tampa Bay gave Carl Nicks a $47 million, five-year deal with $31 million guaranteed in 2012. Compared to that, the Rams got a relative bargain. Then again, Nicks had established himself in New Orleans as one of the league's best guards over years. Unfortunately for the Bucs, he's generated -$14 million in surplus value since then, thanks in part to having played just nine games.
Saffold's deal is a hefty one, comparatively speaking. And he's only started six games at the guard position. We don't know the cap figures yet, so it's hard to pin down what his value might be.
The Rams were able to extract surplus value out of Harvey Dahl for a $5 million annual cap hit in 2012. Age and injuries eroded that surplus value last year. It stands to reason that the Rams could reap plenty of value from Saffold, even on a deal heavy with guaranteed money ... IF IF IF he can give them a reasonable number of games each year.
Free agency is inherently a series of calculated risks. Under GM Les Snead, the Rams have a decidedly mixed bag with wins like William Hayes and Jake Long and big losses like Jared Cook and Cortland Finnegan. The difference with Saffold is that he's one of their own players, a guy they're plenty familiar with, which mitigates some of the risk in a big contract, because they know exactly what they're getting.