The first major move Reggie McKenzie has made this offseason blew up when free agent offensive linemen Rodger Saffold failed his physical for the Oakland Raiders and voided the five year, 42.5 million dollar deal the parties had agreed upon. To make the situation that much more bizarre, the St. Louis Rams immediately jumped at the opportunity to bring back Saffold on a five year deal.
Mike Silver of NFL Network is reporting, through a Raiders source, that owner Mark Davis pulled the plug on the deal even though Saffold could have had surgery to repair his injured shoulder and been ready for training camp. The shoulder was the reason the Raiders failed Saffold's physical and terminated the deal. Saffold missed four games last season after injuring that shoulder, but came back and started the final seven games.
It is very difficult to make sense of this situation. The Raiders had to feel that the shoulder injury was a massive red flag to pull the deal. However, the Rams swooping in immediately puts a grey area to that line of thinking. The Rams are certainly more familiar with Saffold, as he played his entire four year career with the team. No matter how the cookie crumbles, it gives the impression of bad business by the Raiders.
With Saffold no longer an option and the other top offensive tackles already signed, it puts the Raiders in a very difficult position. It has to weigh on the organization that they let go or were unable to keep Jared Veldheer. It also puts the plans of McKenzie to bolster the offensive line in shambles.
The bottom line comes down to questionable business by the Raiders. They were hosting a slew of free agents including Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley, and Terrell Thomas Wednesday. This situation has to at least bring pause to other free agents considering Oakland. It is simply such an unusual practice that players are going to consider it.
The lone silver lining for the Raiders is they are out of a deal where they were scheduled to fork over serious cash to Saffold. Now, the question becomes how this situation affects them going forward? The organization will have to address this matter at some point to save face. The fans deserve some clarity and the organization needs to defend this decision so they can move forward. McKenzie is already in a position where he needs to build a winner. This distraction will not help them achieve that goal.