One of the best interior linemen of 2018 is about to see yet another big payday. Los Angeles Rams left guard Rodger Saffold played out his five-year contract and is set to hit the open market. Saffold, entering his age 31 season, was one of the best guards in football over the past few seasons. While he’s no spring chicken, Saffold should have a few years left in him to play at a near-elite level.
2019 NFL Free Agent Profile: Rodger Saffold
Saffold spent the 2019 season as a key piece of arguably the best offensive line in football. Playing in all 16 regular season games and three postseason contests, Saffold was a key presence in both the run and the passing game. The Los Angeles Rams finished 2018 as Football Outsiders’ top-ranked run blocking line and the sixth-best pass blocking line. Saffold himself was a key reason for these high rankings, finishing the year as the ninth-ranked guard in football, per Pro Football Focus.
This wasn’t a one-year fluke, as Saffold has remained one of the best guards in football over the past few years. Additionally, Saffold has positional versatility, capable of playing all across the line. Interestingly enough, the 6’5”, 323-pound lineman actually entered the league as a left tackle. While he’s clearly better at guard, his ability to line up at multiple position will only help his market. It’s hard to find good offensive lineman, but Saffold is one of the best and should have a massive market in 2019.
If the Los Angeles Rams have their way, Saffold will remain in LA for the foreseeable future. The Rams had perhaps the best rushing attack in football throughout the season, and it would’ve been hard to pull that off without Saffold. Even when superstar running back Todd Gurley went down, journeyman C.J. Anderson seamlessly filled the void. That’s a testament to a fantastic offensive line, and losing Saffold would dramatically hurt the run game.
In spite of their wild spending over the 2018 off-season, the Los Angeles Rams actually have a pretty favorable cap situation. The Rams enter 2019 with $32,441,386 in cap space, 15th-most in the league. Los Angeles is clearly trying to capitalize on quarterback Jared Goff’s rookie deal, so they should be seen as the favorites to sign Saffold.
If Saffold makes it to the open market, look for teams like the Arizona Cardinals and Houston Texans to do everything in their power to bring Saffold aboard. Both teams have abhorrent offensive lines, with Houston’s ranked dead last by Football Outsiders. Josh Rosen looked bad in 2019 but was in a completely unwinnable situation. Giving him an actual offensive line is the only way to evaluate whether or not he’s the future. The Texans, meanwhile, know they have their quarterback of the future in Deshaun Watson. Houston needs to get somebody to protect him, as Watson took a league-leading 62 sacks in 2019.
The Texans and Cardinals both have the cap space to make this signing possible, but they won’t be the only two teams in the running. The Minnesota Vikings, for instance, have a great overall roster with a gaping hole at the guard position. Minnesota only has $5.8 million in available cap space, so they’d need to make a few moves to sign Saffold.
Last Word on Rodger Saffold in Free Agency
Rodger Saffold was one of the best guards in football throughout 2018 and should turn his strong play into a hefty paycheck. Saffold finished the year as the ninth-ranked guard in football and was a key reason the Rams finished the season with the top-ranked run blocking offensive line. Players like him don’t reach the market very often, and strong offensive line play is always in demand.
It’s more than likely that the Rams won’t let Saffold leave Los Angeles. Saffold has remained with the Rams franchise since being drafted back in 2010, and Los Angeles knows just how good he is. Given $32.5 million dollars in cap space, the Rams could easily sign Saffold without having any longterm financial repercussions. Los Angeles is clearly in win-now mode, and signing Saffold makes the Rams a better team.
If Saffold makes it to the open market, look for the Houston Texans and Arizona Cardinals to be two of the top teams in the chase for his services. Both teams have ample cap space and a franchise quarterback they need to protect. The jury is still out on Josh Rosen, but nobody will be able to accurately evaluate him until he’s given something to work with. Additionally, a team like the Minnesota Vikings could make a play, although they’d need to clear up some cap space to make a signing possible.
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