The Los Angeles Rams could be losing as many as four key contributors along the offensive line in the next couple of weeks. Veteran left tackle Andrew Whitworth is contemplating retirement, and the individual that has been groomed as his replacement - Joseph Noteboom - is an unrestricted free agent. Also expected to hit the open market are center Brian Allen and guard Austin Corbett, who are both young and seemingly ascending players.
Inevitably, there will be change in the trenches for Los Angeles this offseason, but could they look to a familiar face for reinforcements?
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the Tennessee Titans have informed Rodger Saffold they are planning to release him. Saffold has a $1M roster bonus due to him next week, and he’s in the final year of his contract with the team.
Titans informed Pro-Bowl guard Rodger Saffold that they are releasing him, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2022
This would have been the fourth year of a four-year, $44 million deal that had a $1 million roster bonus due next week. One more free-agent guard.
One important aspect of signing Saffold as opposed to a free agent on an expiring contract is that he would not count against the Rams in terms of the compensatory selection formula. LA has signed veterans who were released from their previous teams in the past, such as Ndamukong Suh and Leonard Floyd, in order to maximize the return they receive from the league via compensatory draft picks.
Saffold was drafted by the St. Louis Rams and general manager Billy Devaney in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft. This was the year the Rams also drafted quarterback Sam Bradford with the number one overall selection.
The interior offensive lineman became an important member of the 2018 team that made the Super Bowl, but he left as an unrestricted free agent that offseason. LA’s offensive line took a sharp downturn shortly after his departure, and the 2019 unit was easily the worst so far under head coach Sean McVay. The Rams also lost center John Sullivan that offseason.
Could the Rams have learned their lesson the last time they were facing a great deal of change along the offensive line, and could they see Saffold as a viable or cheaper replacement option for Corbett?
Rams fans will remember how significant of a role Saffold played in Todd Gurley’s breakout 2017 campaign where he was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year. Saffold is athletic for a guard, having been drafted to play left tackle, and he is adept at getting downfield on runs and in the screen game.
We will know more about the Rams’ plan for the offensive line when free agency begins next week, and time will tell if they truly have interest in reuniting with Saffold.