Rams welcome back Saffold after his failed physical with Raiders

News-DemocratMarch 14, 2014 

— It was an embarrassing telephone call that offensive lineman Rodger Saffold was glad that he didn't have to make himself.

"Well, that's why we have agents because I didn't make the call," Saffold said of contacting the St. Louis Rams after he failed a physical with the Oakland Raiders. "I did make the decision, but I didn't make the call."

Saffold's agents, Allen Herman and Jared Fox, contacted the Rams about their client returning to his former club after the deal with the Raiders fell through.

"It was a slightly embarrassing feeling because I just didn't want the Rams to feel a certain way about me," Saffold said. "If I didn't get offered by a another team and the only team that was offering me was the Rams, I would have had no problem coming back here. Like I said, this is what I know. This is what I have been through for the last four years. The fans have always been loyal. As well as, the coaches have always looked out for me, so it's a simple choice."

The Rams welcomed Saffold back with open arms, signing him to a five-year, $31.7 million contract that could reach $36 million if all the incentives are met.

Rams coach Jeff Fisher said the deal was consummated about 90 minutes after the club learned of Saffold's failed physical.

"We were very happy upstairs when the word got around," Fisher said. "It was a really good day for us. It's very, very important. We've got an opportunity, in the event something happens up front, to move him around. He proved that, and he played very well at different positions. He's a very important piece of our offensive line."

The Rams plan on Saffold starting at right guard, where he played during the second half of the 2013 season after Harvey Dahl suffered an MCL injury to his knee.

Dahl was released by the Rams earlier this week.

Saffold also provides insurance in case left tackle Jake Long hasn't fully recovered from a torn ACL and MCL in his knee in time for the start of the 2014 season.

As for Saffold's shoulder, he said it feels fine. He said he was able to bench press 400 pounds just a couple of weeks ago, and he said the Raiders' doctors told him he was physically OK after his exam.

"My shoulder feels great, and if you guys have anymore questions, you can come into the weight room," Saffold said. "I'll be in there with Rock (Rams strength coach Rock Gullickson) on Tuesday."

The Rams also aren't concerned about Saffold's shoulder being an issue.

"We passed Rodger at the end of the season as far as the physical was concerned," Fisher said. "He's been working here the entire offseason up to this point in the weight room, no issues."

Saffold said his decision to sign with the Raiders was purely financial.

The Raiders' offer -- five years for $42.5 million, including $21 million guaranteed -- was substantially higher than any offer from the Rams.

"The gap definitely made it difficult," Saffold said. "What's best for family is making sure they are taken care of as long as possible. With the gap being that huge, it was almost like too much not to take."

The Rams also brought back linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who signed a two-year contract worth up to $3.5 million on Thursday night.

Dunbar started 10 last season at strong-side linebacker for the Rams. He had 39 tackles.

The Rams still have a hole to fill at left guard after Chris Williams signed a four-year, $13.5 million contract with the Buffalo Bills.

Two free-agent guards -- Davin Joseph from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Daryn Colledge from the Arizona Cardinals -- visited Rams Park on Thursday.

"We've got a couple other guys that we're talking to," Fisher said of his offensive line. "Obviously, we're going to address it as best we can in the draft as well. You can't overlook the fact that we've got some young players on this roster that are going to get opportunities to play and compete as well in Brandon Washington and Barrett Jones and obviously Tim (Barnes). We feel good about it. Much better than we did a few days ago."

Wide receiver Kenny Britt from the Tennessee Titans and defensive tackle Antonio Smith reportedly will visit the Rams on Saturday.

Contact reporter Steve Korte at skorte@bnd.com or 239-2522.

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