Raiders Sign Rodger Saffold, Grading the Move and What It Means for Oakland

Two years of anticipation has culminated in a lackluster start to free agency for the Oakland Raiders. Jared Veldheer and Lamarr Houston are signing elsewhere, and their first signing in free agency is former St. Louis Rams offensive lineman Rodger Saffold.

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN and widely speculated for the last two days, Saffold will sign a five-year deal with the Raiders. The contract is worth $42.5 million over five years with $21 million guaranteed.

It’s an uninspiring start for the Raiders. Saffold is a good player who can play four line positions, but he’ll be paid a lot for that ability. Veldheer would have cost a lot less. Per Schefter, Veldheer will sign with the Arizona Cardinals for $35 million over five years.

Saffold spent his first three years in the league at left tackle before moving to right tackle and guard last season. According to the Rams’ sideline reporter Tony Softli, Saffold will play offensive guard in 2014—changing the perception of the deal.

The Raiders need a left guard and potentially a right guard if Mike Brisiel retires as Paul Gutierrez of ESPN has suggested, so there was certainly a need at the position. The Raiders’ worst starter last season was left guard Lucas Nix, which is saying something on a team without much talent.

Pro Football Focus (subscription required) gave Nix a grade of negative-44.3 last season. Nix was the worst guard it graded in 2013 and it wasn’t very close. Saffold was very good at right guard last season despite missing some time with an injury.

Saffold’s Pro Football Focus grade at guard was 9.4, good for 18th in the league. Saffold played just 353 snaps at the position. By comparison, the guards around him with similar grades all played around 1,000 snaps or more.

At guard, signing Saffold is a very good move that makes sense for the team. The Raiders had a n...

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