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How things went awry for Saffold in Oakland

2014-03-13T13:00:00Z 2014-03-26T20:31:14Z How things went awry for Saffold in OaklandBy Jim Thomas jthomas@post-dispatch.com 314-340-8197 stltoday.com

Rodger Saffold was in town. His agents were in town. The Oakland Raiders had even flown in Saffold's parents to witness him signing his five-year, $42.5 million free-agent contact. Exciting times.

Then at about 3 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday, Saffold agents Alan Herman and Jared Fox received a call from the Raiders.

"They said, we have a problem. Rodger failed his physical. There's something wrong with his shoulder. What did you know about that?" Herman told the Post-Dispatch.

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To say that Herman and Fox were taken aback would be supreme understatement.

Saffold had suffered a dislocated shoulder early in the Rams' August 8 preseason opener in Cleveland. He missed the second preseason game because of the injury but was back in action for the team's final two preseason games and on into the 2013 regular season.

"We had him examined prior to the start of the season," Herman said. "And he was fine. The Rams physicians thought he was fine, and he played and he played great."

All Rams players undergo exit physicals at the end of the season, and Saffold passed that physical as well.

Fast forward to the present and the trip to Oakland to sign the contract. All NFL contract agreements are pending the results of a physical, and Saffold thought he had passed the physical.

"Rodger told us that the Raiders' doctor examined him and said, 'You're fine,' " Herman said.

Then came Wednesday's meeting.

"(The Raiders) said, 'We think he needs immediate surgery to correct his shoulder,' " Herman said.

Saffold had left the Rams on good terms, and Herman offered to get executive vice president Kevin Demoff on the phone to help clarify matters. Herman said he called a specialist he uses for his clients and double-checked the medical records and MRI results on Saffold's shoulder. The specialist gave Herman the OK on Saffold's shoulder.

Herman said Demoff got in touch with him on more than one occasion Wednesday to tell him Saffold's shoulder was fine.

All of which was to no avail, apparently, as far as the Raiders were concerned. After an initial meeting with Raiders officials, a meeting that Herman said included the team's chief financial officer, and an attorney representing the team, among others, Herman and Fox than met with Raiders general manager Reggie McKenzie before they left the building.

"He apologized profusely," Herman said of McKenzie. "I shared my displeasure in very strong terms. Jared and I were sitting there in disbelief. We got out of the building and we got back to the hotel."

The Rams hadn't gone down easily last Sunday after learning Saffold was signing elsewhere. Herman said that coach Jeff Fisher, general manager Les Snead, and even linebacker James Laurinaitis had called Saffold to try to get him to change his mind.

After it all unraveled in Oakland, the Rams moved in to fill the void Wednesday night.

"We put together a deal that would be more than satisfactory to Rodger," Herman said. "And now all we want to do is finish it."

As Herman spoke in a phone interview, he and Fox were heading for the airport at about midnight Central time to fly back to St. Louis.

Saffold and his parents were scheduled to fly to St. Louis early Thursday morning, with Demoff himself making the flight arrangements Wednesday night according to Herman.

Herman was confident a contract would be signed by sometime Thursday afternoon.

"For the most part it's done," Herman said. "We've just got to iron out a few of the incentives that we're working on. But we basically have the framework of the deal.

"I don't want to release the framework now only because after going through this I just would like to get there (in St. Louis) and make sure we understand what we've talked about. . . .This is one of the craziest stories ever."

Herman then succinctly summed the bizarre events of the past several days: "We said goodbye to Tampa and hello to Oakland."

(Tampa Bay had also seriously pursued Saffold over the weekend.)

"And we said goodbye to St. Louis, too," Herman said. "St. Louis didn't want to accept goodbye, so here we are coming back."

Follow Jim Thomas on twitter @jthom1

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