ST. LOUIS -- Earlier today, ESPN NFL Insider Mike Sando released his list of the top 25
'must sign' free agents heading into the offseason. It's no surprise to see that there were no St. Louis Rams on the list considering it's headed up by the likes of New Orleans tight end Jimmy Graham and Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy.
For this exercise, Sando called two agents and two general managers to get their opinion. As expected, the general managers didn't focus on the money the players will get so much as their value to the team's performance, while the agents focused more on how much money it will take to re-sign or acquire the player.
The Rams have no pending free agents the caliber of Graham or Hardy, and none that will require the lucrative contract it will take to sign one of those guys. But they do have one player that is going to be an important domino to the rest of the offseason. Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold was the line's most important movable piece this season, playing both tackle spots and right guard at various times.
Saffold proved especially adept at guard where he flashed the potential to be a Pro Bowl caliber player. Rams general manager Les Snead made it clear last week that the team would like to retain Saffold, and went so far as to say that he's not concerned with the idea of pigeonholing players into positions as a way of determining their value.
We've spent plenty of time discussing the possibility of a major overhaul of the Rams' offensive line this offseason. Re-signing Saffold would at least give them the versatility and flexibility to focus elsewhere early in the draft. The question remains as to how much he's going to cost?
Saffold has a lengthy injury history that, despite his flashes of potential, still means he'll come affixed with the 'buyer beware' tag when he hits the open market. It's also probably the biggest reason Saffold doesn't appear on Sando's list.
In Sando's top 25, only three offensive linemen made the cut. It's a center, Cleveland's Alex Mack, who ranks at the top of the list, coming in at No. 3 overall. Kansas City tackle Branden Albert is No. 5, and Baltimore tackle Eugene Monroe is No. 25.
That Saffold doesn't make the cut could be a good sign for the Rams' hopes of re-signing him, because it means there are plenty of other people ahead of him on the list.
On the other side of the coin, it's important to note that many of the players on Sando's list won't see the open market because of the franchise tag and possible extensions. The lack of offensive linemen on the list could also indicate a player like Saffold might be poised for a bigger payday than normal simply because the supply might not meet the demand.