The initial attractions to Buffalo for new guard Rodger Saffold are obvious. First, the Bills are a bonafide Super Bowl contender. That’s the easy one.
On top of that, Saffold played for new Buffalo offensive line coach Aaron Kromer when both were with the Rams from 2017-2018. In fact, Saffold talked with Kromer right after he was released by the Titans. That relationship helped seal the deal.
“I know that the Bills were interested, as well as a few other teams, but when it comes down to the situation and the opportunity of being able to play for a championship, I knew it was going to be with this organization,” Saffold told reporters via Zoom on Monday. “All the stars seemed to align. It’s just a better situation for me being out here in Buffalo.”
The Bills locked Saffold into a one-year deal on Monday. Terms of the agreement were not yet reported.
He turns 34 in June and is coming off the first Pro Bowl appearance of his 12-year career. He’s known as a better run blocker than pass blocker. Curiously, his first Pro Bowl season was graded harshly at Pro Football Focus. He was rated the 74th best pass blocker of 82 qualifying guards in 2021.
Saffold raved about the Bills staff and especially the facilities. He joked about wanting to start lifting immediately.
“I kinda had that little kid at the amusement park (reaction) just looking around,” Saffold said with a smile.
Those facilities might play a big role is how successful Saffold is with the Bills. Towards the end of last season, Saffold admitted he was dealing with a nerve issue in his shoulder. It would flare up if hit a certain way.
Saffold played in 16 games last year, but missed snaps in nine of those games. He missed 24% of the snaps or more in five games. It’s unknown if the shoulder injury was the reason for all of those issues. Saffold also missed large chunks of time during four of his final nine games in 2020.
The issue wasn’t just his health. It was also the health of the Tennessee team around him. The Titans fielded an NFL record 91 players last year. It took a toll on a day to day basis.
“I didn’t get any vet days off. I had to continue to play over and over and over and over again. I didn’t miss any practice days even throughout the season,” Saffold said. “Not being able to have those opportunities of rest, I was constantly putting myself in that position where you could get an injury or something that’s nagging like that.”
Saffold adds he did a lot of extra work in the offseason before last year and wonders if he may have worked himself too hard.
He did talk to a specialist about surgery for the shoulder, but was told it’s not serious enough to warrant a procedure. Instead, Saffold did something he’s never attempted before in an effort to heal his shoulder.
“I took a month off from everything. From working out. From football. Everything,” Saffold said. “I feel a lot better. We’ll know (for sure if the shoulder is better) once we start playing again.”
As of today, Saffold says he has no issues with the injury. He’s hopeful the rest and the plan the Bills have for him this year will make the shoulder a non-issue. No matter how it progresses, that won’t change the way he goes about his business.
“I play without fear. That’s something that I’m never gonna be worried about,” Saffold said. “I’m gonna continue to try to push people and push myself as far as I can possibly push it.”
For the first time in his career, Saffold might push it all the way to the Super Bowl.