One of the biggest mistakes of the Les Snead era was the decision to not bring back Rodger Saffold to the Los Angeles Rams following the 2018 season. Much like Austin Corbett a year ago, Saffold left to sign for the Tennessee Titans where he played for three years. Last year, Saffold signed a one-year deal to join the Buffalo Bills in search of a Super Bowl ring.
That Super Bowl ring never came to fruition, but this offseason, Saffold is once again a free agent at 34-years old. On Wednesday evening, the Rams were reported to be close to hiring Bills assistant offensive line coach Ryan Wendell for their open offensive line coach job.
The Rams are moving toward hiring Buffalo Bills assistant OL coach Ryan Wendell for their OL coaching job, per source. It is not done yet, source said, but is heading in that direction. Wendell is a former player who moved up coaching ranks with Bills.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) February 9, 2023
By hiring the Bills assistant offensive line coach, could Saffold be open to a return to Los Angeles to finish his career and retire a Ram?
Ever since Saffold went to Tennessee, the Rams have struggled at times to fill the void that he left at guard. That absence was felt immediately in 2019 when the Rams struggled to replace Saffold until they traded for Austin Corbett. The offensive line ranked among the worst in the NFL for much of that season.
Once he settled in, Corbett offered some of that consistency in 2020 and 2021 and David Edwards has been solid for a fifth round pick. However, for many years, Saffold was the epitome of consistency on the Rams offensive line.
With David Edwards set to hit free agency, the Rams once again have a potential hole to fill at left guard this offseason. Saffold has a market-value of just $5.4M according to Spotrac, meaning he would be an affordable option for the Rams. However, you could make the case that paying a 34-year old guard $5.4M isn’t a wide use of limited resources.
On top of being a familiar face, the Rams lacked veteran leadership on the offensive line last year. While Rob Havenstein was consistent, it was pretty clear that the Rams missed the presence of Andrew Whitworth. Saffold would be a veteran on a left side side of the offensive line that desperately needs that.
The issue with bringing in Saffold at 34 years old is that he looks to be on a downward trajectory when it comes to his level of play. Last season was Saffold’s worst year as a starter. He played over 1000 snaps at left guard, but had an overall grade of just 44.0 and run-blocking grade of 43.4 according to Pro Football Focus. Both were the worst grade of his career.
His 42 quarterback pressures allowed were the most of his career as well and by far the most since his rookie season when he allowed 40. This is not the same top-10 guard that left Los Angeles back in 2018. The fact that he made the Pro Bowl this year says more about how bad the Pro Bowl has become than it does about Saffold’s level of play.
It’s possible that Buffalo just wasn’t a fit as Saffold remained steady for three years in Tennessee. The more likely scenario is that father time caught up and Saffold is a 34-year old guard in the NFL.
With all of that being said, it seems like Saffold is motivated to come back better and stronger next season. There’s no better place to do that than with an organization that he called home for nine years.
I can’t wait to prove everyone wrong next year…— Rodger Saffold (@Rodger_Saffold) January 31, 2023
According to Joe Buscaglia of The Athletic, following the Bills’ season, Saffold said he intends to play in 2023 and wants to be back in Buffalo. He mentioned he’s not trying to break the bank, he just wants what’s fair for his age and ability and wants to do what he can to make it work in Buffalo.
While Saffold may want to be back in Buffalo next season, it’s very possible that they look to move in to improve at the position. This would leave the door open to a reunion with the Rams.
Signing a 34-year old guard who’s level of play took a significant dip last season would be a huge risk and wouldn’t necessarily result in an improvement to the left guard position. Still, given the connection to Wendell, it might be something to keep an eye on this offseason.
If the Rams are looking for veteran leadership, consistency, and someone who’s motivated after a down year, Saffold might be worth taking that risk on in free agency. If the Rams are looking for an upgrade and someone they can build a foundation with for the next three years, they may want to look somewhere else.