The Oakland Raiders announced Wednesday night that new signee offensive lineman Rodger Saffold failed his physical, voiding the five-year $42.5 million deal the two sides agreed to the day before, and he is now returning to the St. Louis Rams.
After a disagreement on Saffold's physical condition for a shoulder issue, Saffold went back to St. Louis to sign a five-year contract with the Rams.
Herman and Fox said there was a strong disagreement on Saffold's physical condition. The Raiders had concerns about his shoulder. They said the Rams had "no concerns whatsoever" about his shoulder, which he injured in the preseason opener last season against Cleveland, but was ready for the season opener and wasn't affected by it during the season. The four games he missed last season were because of a knee injury.
ESPN.com reported that Herman and Fox contacted their doctors, Dr. Frank Cordasco at the Hospital For Special Surgery in New York, who studied Saffold's MRIs. His review indicated nothing was wrong with Saffold's shoulder.
The Raiders had reached an agreement with Saffold on a five-year year deal on Tuesday that included $21.5 million guaranteed with $16 million of that in 2014.
NFL Network reported that Raiders owner Mark Davis canceled the deal even though he was told Saffold would be ready for training camp if he had shoulder surgery.
Saffold has missed 17 games over the last three seasons.
--Early indications are that the free agency period served as evidence that the six-game losing streak to close the season for the Raiders made a deep impression on general manager Reggie McKenzie and coach Dennis Allen.
Although both men said part of their formula to return the Raiders to respectability included bringing back many of their own free agents, they instead appear fine with letting a lot of them find employment elsewhere.
Instead, on the first day of the new league year, Veldheer was confirming via twitter he had signed with the Arizona Cardinals, and Houston was accepting congratulations on the same medium from teammates for his deal with the Chicago Bears.
Given an NFL-high amount of space under the salary cap approaching $66 million, the only way to interpret not using the tag is McKenzie didn't think Veldheer was worth the one-year figure of $11.6 million or Houston was worth $13.1 million.
In time leading up to free agency, the Raiders only made two moves that were less than overwhelming. They extended the contract of Taiwan Jones, listed as a cornerback but actually special teams gunner. They also signed Khalif Barnes, who ended the season as the starting left guard and is valued as veteran presence at both guard and tackle.
Other than that, it was a silence was that was disconcerting to the fan base. McKenzie says the Raiders have a plan.
"I want to make this team better and that's what we're going to set out to do (in free agency) and throughout the offseason," McKenzie said told reporters at recent team function. "We've been trying to set things out and get things done. We want to upgrade this football team, and we're determined to do that."
Their plan became evident when tackles Rodgers Saffold and Austin Howard were signed only hours after Veldheer and Houston signed elsewhere. However, the Saffold deal was voided when he failed a physical.
Veldheer and Barnes weren't the only players that McKenzie and Allen said following the season they hoped to bring back but were scheduled to hit the open market.
Others included their leading rusher, Rashad Jennings (733 yards, 4.5 yards per carry), who signed with the Giants, the remaining three starters on the defensive line other than Houston (end Jason Hunter, tackles Pat Sims and Vance Walker) and their biggest-named player in free safety Charles Woodson. Walker signed March 14 with the Chiefs.
It's shaping up as another major overhaul for a team that for most of the season had 10 new starters on defense in 2013.
"There could be 50 new faces in the locker room," joked fullback Marcel Reece at a team dinner honoring him as the winner of the Raiders' "Commitment to Excellence" award.
--How different will the Raiders be in 2014? Fullback Marcel Reece thinks it will be dramatic.
"There could be 50 new faces in that locker room," Reece said.
Reece promises to indoctrinate the players on what it means to be a Raider, although it should be noted he has never experienced a winning season in Oakland.
"I'm not expecting new guys to come in and set a tone," Reece said. "They don't know what it means to be a Raider. I'm looking forward to setting that one for that locker room. They're going to work like us. It's easy to talk about, but I'm looking forward to the challenge of leading by example each and every day."
--McKenzie's background and public comments suggest a man who will be conservative during free agency and careful with his money. Reece sounds as if he wants him to attack the free agency period like Al Davis, whose approach put the Raiders in a hole both in terms of won-loss record and in terms of the salary cap.
"I want him to be fearless," Reece said. "I don't him to worry about anyone else. Let's go for it right now. That's what I'm looking forward to. No safe moves. I don't want those. I want smart, calculated, fearless, Raider-ass moves. We want guys committed to winning. That's what we want to do. We want to win right now."
--Tackle-guard Khalif Barnes won the team's Ed Block Courage Award in part because of his willingness to step in at guard, a position out of his comfort zone at tackle.
He came back to the Raiders, signing his sixth straight one-year contact, for 2014.
"It's very beneficial because of the position flexibility Khalif has had," line coach Tony Sparano told Raiders.com. "It gives us the flexibility to do a lot of things with him.
Barnes said he wanted to return to be part of the Raiders rebuilding process and is confident better days are ahead..
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--QUARTERBACK: Both McKenzie and Allen have stated publicly that the quarterback of the future may not be on the roster and that they also want to bring in a veteran. They like Matt McGloin as a potential backup, which means a draft pick and a veteran put Terrelle Pryor's status in jeopardy.
--DEFENSIVE END: Houston's strength was providing pressure if not sacks. It looks like he'll need to be replaced, preferably by someone with more finishing skill. A base run-stopper will also be sought. Justin Tuck was signed with the only question being how much he has left.
CORNERBACK: With Tracy Porter gone in free agency and Mike Jenkins possibly departing, the Raiders are looking for a starter opposite second-year player DJ Hayden as well as an accomplished slot corner to help deal with the divisional dilemmas of Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers and Alex Smith.
UNRESTRICTED FREE AGENTS
--CB Phillip Adams has been at times a decent cornerback and also has flashed as a punt return specialist. Appears to have some support with coach Dennis Allen and general manager Reggie McKenzie, which means he could return.
--WR Jacoby Ford flashed as a rookie as both a receiver and a kickoff return specialist, showing the kind of speed the late Al Davis loved. However, he was unable to remain healthy, had trouble holding on to the ball as a receiver and even his kickoff return skills faded. The new regime was not enamored with his overall attitude.
--C-G Andre Gurode played at both left guard and center after being brought in for depth but was out of the Raiders plans in the final seven games of the season, never seeing the field.
--DE Jason Hunter is a role-playing base end and solid locker-room presence who adds little in terms of rushing the passer but is solid against the run. Could be brought back but the Raiders could wait and be fairly certain he'll be available once the first wave of free agency passes.
--CB Mike Jenkins had two interceptions as a Raiders starter and probably gave the team its best play at cornerback despite a sub-par pass rush. Team would prefer to replace Jenkins with a younger free-agent corner.
--TE Jeron Mastrud was a 12-game starter but was largely a blocker with no impact on the passing game (six receptions, 88 yards), with rookie Mychal Rivera poised to take over fulltime if he can improve his blocking. Could be brought back but not a priority.
--DT Daniel Muir played a minor role as a veteran reserve defensive tackle and given the team's preference for going young, Muir's return if at all likely wouldn't be until training camp or later.
--T Tony Pashos came aboard after being released by the Redskins, moved immediately into the starting lineup at right tackle and was a 12-game starter, missing four games with a groin injury. Early on, he graded out as one of their best linemen but the club may be looking at younger players such as second-year player Menelik Watson.
--DT Pat Sims was imported as a free agent from Cincinnati to occupy blockers and help stop the run as a nose and at time he did it very well, even playing dominant football. At other times, he was virtually invisible.
--S Charles Woodson held up physically better than anyone expected, but wasn't the playmaker he was in his Green Bay days playing mostly as a single deep safety. The Raiders say publicly they want him back, but will wait.
RESTRICTED FREE AGENTS: None.
EXCLUSIVE RIGHTS FREE AGENTS
--LB Kaelin Burnett is a core special teams player and the brother of starting Raiders weak-side starting linebacker Kevin Burnett.
--CB Chimdi Chekwa has grown on the coaching staff after being originally cut and brought back to practice squad, then to 53-man roster.
--T Matt McCants fared well enough after being brought aboard last season with an injury-ravaged offensive line to merit another look.
--FB Jamize Olawale is a core special teams player and a big fullback with intriguing skills who could become more of a factor this season.
--S Brandian Ross stepped in as a starter when Tyvon Branch went down at strong safety and spent much of the season struggling in coverage and missing a lot of tackle opportunities.
--RB Jeremy Stewart is a journeyman back and special teams player who will fight to make the 53-man roster.
--G/T Khalif Barnes: Potential UFA; $1.2M/1 yrs, $100,000 SB.
--CB Taiwan Jones: Potential UFA; terms unknown.
--RB Darren McFadden: UFA; $1.75M/1 yr.
--S Usama Young: UFA; terms unknown.
--CB Tarell Brown: UFA 49ers; $3.5M guaranteed/1 yr.
--LB Justin Cole: FA; $645,000/1 yr.
--QB Trent Edwards: FA; $730,000/1 yr.
--T Austin Howard: UFA Jets; $30M/5 yrs, $15M guaranteed.
--DT Antonio Smith: UFA Texans; $9M/2 yrs.
--DT Torell Troup: FA; $570,000/1 yr.
--DE Justin Tuck: UFA Giants; $11M/2 yrs.
--LB LaMarr Woodley: FA Steelers; 2 yrs, terms unknown.
--DE Lamarr Houston: UFA Bears; $35M.5 yrs, $4.95M SB/$15M guaranteed.
--RB Rashad Jennings: UFA Giants; $14M/4 yrs, $3M guaranteed.
--CB Tracy Porter: UFA Redskins; terms unknown.
--T Jared Veldheer: UFA Cardinals; $35M/5 yrs, $6.25M SB/$17M guaranteed.
--DT Vance Walker: UFA Chiefs; 3 yrs, terms unknown.
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Rodger Saffold
- Oakland Raiders
- Khalif Barnes