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2019 Jets Free Agency Profile: Rodger Saffold

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Michael Nania takes a look at the Los Angeles Rams left guard

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Welcome to the 2019 Jets Free Agency Profile series! Up until the start of the 2019 free agency period in March, I’ll be running through a bunch of names the Jets could potentially bring in with their hoard of cap space. Let’s get into it!


Name: Rodger Saffold

Birthday/Age: June 6th, 1988 (age 31 on September 1st)

Height/Weight: 6’5, 323

College: Indiana (selected 33rd overall by the Rams in the second round of the 2010 Draft)

Team(s): Rams (2010-18)

Position/usage: Left guard, where he has been starting regularly since 2016. Played left tackle in college and throughout his first three seasons in the league. Has starting experience in the NFL at every offensive line position except for center

2018 stats: 16 of 16 regular season starts (1068 snaps, 97.1%), 3 of 3 playoff starts. PFF #9 ranked guard (Never use PFF ratings as gospel, but they are a solid tool to get a hint on the overall value of a player who you haven’t watched much of)

FA type: Unrestricted

Previous salary: Signed a 5 year, $31,347,235 contract with the Rams prior to the 2014 season. Had a cap hit of $8.0M in 2018

Comparable contracts:

Most expensive age 30+ guards in recent seasons:

  • 2018 - Josh Sitton (signed by MIA, age 32): 2 years, $13.5M, $8.5M guaranteed
  • 2018 - Brandon Fusco (signed by ATL, age 30): 3 years, $12.8M, $5.5M guaranteed
  • 2017 - Ted Larsen (signed by MIA, age 30): 3 years, $5.7M, $1.8M guaranteed
  • 2016 - Josh Sitton (signed by CHI, age 30): 3 years, $21.0M, $10.0M guaranteed
  • 2016 - Evan Mathis (signed by ARI, age 34): 1 year, $4.0M, $3.0M guaranteed

Most expensive guard contracts in the 2018 offseason:

  • Andrew Norwell (signed by JAX, age 26): 5 years, $66.5M, $30.0M guaranteed
  • Justin Pugh (signed by ARI, age 28): 5 years, $44.8M, $15.8M guaranteed
  • Zach Fulton (signed by HOU, age 26): 4 years, $28.0M, $13.0M guaranteed
  • Josh Kline (re-signed by TEN, age 28): 4 years, $26.5M, $12.0M guaranteed

Jets connections: Rams teammate of Trumaine Johnson. Different side of the ball, but new Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was the Rams defensive coordinator from 2014-16, while his son and new Jets defensive assistant Blake Williams spent time as a linebackers coach for the team

Measurables (via mockdraftable.com)

Pros:

  • Has started 50 out of 52 possible games over the past three seasons
  • Very unique versatility. Has started games at both tackle and guard spots, with extensive experience at both left guard and left tackle
  • By most accounts, regarded as one of the best players at his position. In 2018, had the best pass blocking efficiency among the Rams starters, on a unit that allowed the fifth-lowest adjusted sack rate in the NFL. Credited with only one pressure allowed in the Super Bowl. PFF’s 9th-ranked guard in 2018 and Bleacher Report NFL 1000’s 9th-ranked guard in 2017
  • Consistently is a highly graded run blocker
  • While Saffold looks to have the talent to succeed with any blocking concept, the Rams seemed to be a zone-heavy team over the past two seasons, and they had a lot of success with it much in part thanks to Saffold. This is a note on their outside zone running production in 2017:

By almost any measure, the Los Angeles Rams were the league’s most successful team when it came to running outside zone last season. They averaged 1.7 yards per carry before contact and 5.6 yards per carry total with 33 explosive runs (gains of 15 or more yards), eight more than any other team. They did that despite forcing only 15 missed tackles on 146 carries for one of the lowest broken tackle rates in the league.

  • The Rams loved to run behind him and had a ton of success when they did. On runs to the left side in 2018, Los Angeles ranked 1st in total first downs (51), 2nd in yards per carry (5.79), and 4th in first down rate (32.1%). In 2017, they ranked 2nd in yards per carry (5.35), 9th in first down rate (25.2%), and 11th in total first downs (38)

Saffold’s mammoth six-foot-five, 325-plus pound frame makes him stand out even among his own linemates, but don’t let that fool you into believing he is but only a mauler. Saffold can get out there and move with the best of them, and his movement ability is perhaps the primary reason he has been able to enjoy such great longevity in the increasingly zone-heavy NFL.

Bleacher Report’s Doug Farrar had this to say about Saffold’s 2017 season:

Very quick to engage in both two- and three-point stances, Saffold has made the complete turn from former failed offensive tackle to outstanding left guard. Saffold still has the quickness and agility the Rams saw when they selected him 33rd overall in the 2010 draft, but now that he’s playing inside, he doesn’t have to worry about edge-rushers beating him to the edge of the pocket. Instead, Saffold can focus on using his lower-body strength to drive-block and sealing the edge well on run plays.

Saffold does his best work when on the move, and thus was a great fit in the very zone-heavy running philosophy the Rams have employed over the past couple of years. He always does a great job getting off the ball with tremendous quickness, which has allowed him to excel at either pinning his man inside to create the outside lane or driving his man towards the sideline, like in the following clip on this inside zone run.

Saffold is really impressive at the second level. Here he hits it immediately and is able to drive Cowboys rookie sensation Leighton Vander Esch nearly out of the picture to pave the way for a Todd Gurley touchdown run.

Nice job here by Saffold beating his man outside off the snap (maybe getting away with some hands to the face?) and then hitting the second level to prevent the linebacker from impeding Gurley’s path.

Cons:

  • Age is obviously the first concern that comes to mind. Saffold will be 31 when the 2019 season begins. How much does he have left?
  • Had seven penalties in 2018, tied for fifth most among guards. A huge departure from his past success in this area. Averaged only 2.8 penalties per 16 games over the previous five seasons, with 11 penalties in 63 games from 2013-17
  • Has done a great job providing availability over the past three seasons, but hasn’t been pristine for his whole career. Over the five season span from 2011 to 2015, he played only 52 of 80 possible games, and appeared in twelve games or fewer in four of five seasons
  • It’s not a question you hear regarding offensive linemen much, but I wonder if Saffold benefited from some of the factors around him in Los Angeles. He wasn’t really seen as a top-tier guard until 2017. That’s when the Rams drastically overhauled their offense and franchise after bringing in Sean McVay, in addition to hiring a new offensive line coach in Aaron Kromer. The team also added All-Pro left tackle Andrew Whitworth to play alongside Saffold.

I was watching through some Rams footage to try and find an impressive pass blocking rep from Saffold to use in this piece, but I couldn’t find anything notable. The design of the offense did a great job mitigating the need for the line to block 1-on-1, employing lots of quick passing, screens, motion, and designed rollouts. It’s tough to evaluate his pass blocking ability in an offense like that.

All of these questions, especially when coupled with his age, make me wonder how well Saffold could adapt to a new team at this point in time.


Rodger Saffold has become one of the most respected guards in the league. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down athletically just yet, as he remains one of the most impressive physical specimens at the position and one of the league’s most impactful run blockers. Over the past couple of years, he has been one of the best players on perhaps the strongest offense in the NFL, while providing reliable durability.

Given the current state that their offensive line is in, the Jets would be foolish to not at least consider the idea of pursuing Saffold should he become available. With that being said, there are certainly some legitimate reasons for concern to take into account regarding the longtime Ram.

Poll

Five being the most, how intrigued are you by the idea of the Jets adding Rodger Saffold?

This poll is closed

  • 26%
    5
    (101 votes)
  • 39%
    4
    (153 votes)
  • 26%
    3
    (101 votes)
  • 7%
    2
    (29 votes)
  • 0%
    1
    (2 votes)
386 votes total Vote Now