How Jake Long And The Rams Could Benefit The Saints

Rams LT Rodger Saffold

You would have a hard time right now finding a member of the Who Dat Nation that isn’t feeling some level of anxiety or at least curiosity over how the Saints will fill the void at starting left tackle. Despite what some may want you to believe, Charles Brown is not the answer to losing Jermon Bushrod. However, the answer may be in St. Louis.

Jake long has been in St. Louis since Tuesday going through the process of trying to reach an agreement with the Rams to become their new starting left tackle. While this would be great news for the Jeff Fisher & Co., it’s not so great for at least one member of the team. Current starting left tackle Rodger Saffold seems to be none to pleased with this potential move. The Rams have hinted that they would move Saffold to another position along the line if Long joins the team. According to Bob Glauber of Newsday yesterday, Saffold would “likely” seek a trade before playing another position.

Saffold’s agent Alan Herman came out this morning and tried to walk the story back a little bit, but ended up reaffirming his client’s feelings about changing positions. “I’m sure if you would ask Rodger what position he’d want to play, he’d want to be a left tackle,” Herman told Jim Thomas of the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. “That’s his position. It’s a paying position in the league. He’s played left tackle his whole life since he was a little kid. Why would he want to move to the other side?” Herman did stop short of mentioning a trade though. “See what happens, and we go from there. If they sign the guy, I’m sure Rodger’s going to be the first one to say: ‘I want to be a left tackle.’ What happens at that point?”

While there’s no guarantee the Rams would honor the request, Saffold would definitely be affordable in a trade seeing as he is only getting paid $780K in the final year of his rookie contract. If a trade actually were requested, St. Louis could end up facing a more difficult decision than some think. If they traded him, they would be losing a commodity they have faith in but would at least get soemthing in return. If they kept him, they would get another year of service out of someone they feel is dependable but would likely significantly decrease the odds of re-signing him next year after forcing him to move to a position he doesn’t want to play. In this case they would still end up losing Saffold and get nothing in return for him. Which is more valuable: the one year or a return on their time and training investment?

If the Rams did decide to trade him, the Saints could certainly offer fair compensation. Fisher is still in need of a proven running back that could serve as a backup to second-year RB Daryl Richardson. The Saints currently have five running backs and no starting left tackle. Sending Chris Ivory to St. Louis would fill a need for the and Ivory would likely agree to the move since it give him a shot at more playing time. In addition to Ivory, add a conditional pick in the 2014 draft. The round would be conditioned on Ivory’s health and performance. Due to Saffold only having one year left on his contract, it shouldn’t be hard to get away with a later round pick like a 5th or 6th depending on Ivory.

Sure there are a number of options still available on the free agent market, but the ones that are worth the money are drawing considerable attention. Even more importantly, there are no free agents worthy of starting at left tackle that are going to sign for $780K. While some may not like giving up a fan favorite plus one of next year’s draft picks, filling the hole left along the offensive line is far more important at this point and is not an easy task in this tight cap year. This deal would complete the line and actually lower our cap figure at the same time. It just makes too much sense not to go for it.

UPDATE 1:14 am 3/18/13: Long has agreed to contract terms with the Rams. The contract terms are 4yrs/$34M with incentives pushing it as high as $36M. Now we will have to see if Saffold asks for a trade as expected and if St. Louis indeed grant the request.

UPDATE 12:51 pm 3/29/13: According to a new report today by Thomas, Saffold has not returned any calls or spoken to the team since Long signed 11 days ago. “We’ve been trying to reach Rodger, and he’s not returning calls right now,” Fisher stated. When asked if a trade had been requested yet, he responded “No. It’s just been quiet. And we’re trying to reach Rodger just like we’re trying to reach all of our other players. We stay in touch with our players. Maybe he’s traveling and is on his way back.” In addition, Rams General Manager Les Snead has stated that the team has not ruled out taking an offensive tackle high in the draft.

UPDATE 4:21 pm 4/2/13: Per Thomas’ Twitter feed, the Rams have hosted offensive tackle Terron Armstead and are scheduled to host offensive tackle Kyle Long. Armstead, who grew up across the river in Cahokia, IL, and Long, younger brother of Rams starting defensive end Chris Long, are both projected to be mid-second round picks.

UPDATE 10:44 pm 4/10/13: According to Thomas’ latest article on the matter, people close to Saffold have said he will not hold out from the Rams’ off-season program including their voluntary workouts. He will fulfill the terms of his contract as long as he is with the team. However, Saffold’s representatives have made it clear to the team that is open to a trade according to one league source. While he currently has no real leverage to force a trade, Thomas believes there is the possibility of a draft-day trade. The Rams currently have upcoming visits scheduled with three more offensive tackle prospects. Alabama’s D.J. Fluker, Florida State’s Menelik Watson and Virginia’s Oday Aboushi are all projected as right tackles, possibly leaving Saffold out of a position altogether. With only one year left on Saffold’s contract, Thomas feels that a fourth round pick would be appropriate. To see the entire article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, click here.