The Oakland Raiders made their first signing early on day one of the 2014 NFL Free Agency period, but it was not one that many of the fans were very excited about. After watching left tackle Jared Veldheer depart in free agency, many hoped the Raiders would take a run at a guy like Brandon Albert or Eugene Monroe. Instead, they brought in a guy who spent last season playing guard for the St. Louis Rams.
Rodger Saffold started his career with the Rams playing left tackle, but after having injury issues that caused him to miss 17 games since 2011 he was moved to guard this past season. Though it has been reported that the Raiders will be using Saffold as a guard, the five-year, $42.5 million contract he signed would point to him playing the tackle position.
Either way, there are serious questions about the signing. If he is being brought in as a replacement for Veldheer, he would likely represent a downgrade at the position and for a higher price tag than Veldheer fetched in his new contract. If the Raiders brought him in to upgrade their much-maligned guard position, they found themselves a pretty big upgrade, but at a very big price for the position. In fact, the $8.5 million per year average would tie for second largest guard contract in the league, equaling the yearly average of Logan Mankins.
Saffold would make for a very big upgrade at guard, but a Mankins-sized one? That is yet to be seen. Many around the league saw Saffold as a very good prospect at the guard position; he was listed as the 25th best free agent on Pro Football Talk’s top 100 list. Plus, given the number of injuries the Raiders offensive line went through last season, having a guy who is capable of playing four out of five offensive line positions is very appealing.
While not a home run by any stretch of the imagination, Saffold is not a bad pick up by McKenzie. The offensive line is in desperate need of help and Saffold is a good player. The only questions are whether or not he can stay healthy and whether or not McKenzie overpaid for him.