The Buffalo Bills have had some issues at guard over the last few years. They tried to plug in some veterans who, for stretches, played well. Quinton Spain and Jon Feliciano come to mind in that group. They tried to upgrade with outside veterans who didn’t quite work out—that’s Brian Winters if you’re wondering—while also investing some draft capital in the interior.
While the team has continued to prioritize protecting quarterback Josh Allen, the choices they’ve made along the offensive front haven’t always worked out. Buffalo has gone outside of the organization to improve the offensive line multiple times, and based on results from last year, it appears that they had some of the solutions to their problems in-house all along.
Will general manager Brandon Beane’s latest free-agent signing at guard pan out as a solid starter? In today’s edition of “90 players in 90 days,” we’ll discuss that question.
Name: Rodger Saffold
Height/Weight: 6’5” 325 lbs
Age: 33 (34 on 6/6/2022)
Acquired: Signed with Buffalo as UFA on 3/14/2022
Financial situation (per Spotrac): Saffold signed what amounts to a one-year deal worth a total of $6.25 million. That includes a 2022 cap hit of $4.22 million, and a void year for 2023 that accounts for the rest of the money.
2021 Recap: Saffold was released prior to the final year of the four-year free-agent deal he signed with the Tennessee Titans prior to the 2019 NFL season. He played in 15 games, accounting for 82% of Tennessee’s offensive snaps. In those games, he committed five penalties and allowed two sacks. For his efforts, Saffold was named to the first Pro Bowl team of his career.
Positional outlook: Given his contract and his pedigree, Saffold was signed to start, not to make the team as a reserve. Whether he plays left guard, where he started for the Titans over the last few years, or swaps over to the right side remains to be seen. Ryan Bates, Ike Boettger, Cody Ford, Jacob Capra, Greg Mancz, David Quessenberry, Alec Anderson, and Derek Kerstetter are the other players vying for space whom the Bills list as guards in some capacity.
2022 Offseason: Saffold is healthy and ready for training camp.
2022 Season outlook: Saffold is basically written into the starting lineup in Sharpie. Whether he is an upgrade over the Jon Feliciano/Cody Ford pairing seems obvious on paper (yes), but in practice is still up for debate. Assuming Ryan Bates is the other starting guard gives Buffalo an offensive line of Dion Dawkins, Saffold, Mitch Morse, Bates, and Spencer Brown, which is a pretty solid, athletic group on the whole. So long as he can play at or near the level he did last season, Saffold should be a fine upgrade for the Bills up front.