Donning a gray pinstriped suit while fielding questions from media on Friday,
In his first foray into free agency, Saffold found the familiar surroundings in St. Louis to be most appealing after his initial agreement with Oakland fell through.
“As soon as everything went down, they received a call minutes after,” Saffold said. “We always felt like the Rams were a huge choice in this and we kept them together to the end. It was pretty obvious at that point. I’m glad to be back here. I know everybody here. I get to play next to
Saffold’s deal, which will have him in St. Louis through 2018, provides the Rams a sense of stability along an offensive line that had seen multiple players defect through free agency over the past 72 hours. Originally drafted as a tackle, Saffold moved to guard midway through the 2013 season, a move that was initiated by offensive line coach Paul Boudreau. Saffold flourished in his new role, as the Rams rushed for 1,457 yards in his 12 games in 2013.
“He made the switch last year, a very difficult switch to make, and he was very productive,” Fisher said. “Our plan is to play him at guard as we continue to fill in the pieces around him.”
Ultimately, Saffold’s return to the Rams creates a sense of continuity that serves each party well. Saffold, who is entering his fifth NFL season in 2014, highlighted the relationships built and maintained throughout his time in St. Louis as being key to his return.
“This is what I know,” Saffold said. “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.”
Saffold enters the 2014 season as the most versatile of the Rams’ offensive lineman, as his ability to play either tackle position in addition to guard added to his value among the Rams’ coaching staff.
Fisher suggested that the signing of Saffold may not signal the end of the Rams’ additions through free agency, as he referenced a recent visit by two-time Pro Bowl guard Davin Joseph, as well as guard Daryn Colledge.
Whichever direction the Rams pursue with the remainder of free agency, crossing off Fisher’s top priority from his offseason to-do list came as a relief to the Rams’ head coach.
“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. The initial decision to move inside, he welcomed with open arms. Obviously, I think over the big picture it helped him. It gives us some confidence now. He’s a very important piece of our offensive line.”