Browns Sign Bills’ 2022 Pro-Bowl Lineman Ahead of Playoffs

Rodger Saffold, Bills

Getty Rodger Saffold #76 of the Buffalo Bills prepares to take the field prior to a game against the Cincinnati Bengals in the AFC Divisional Playoff game at Highmark Stadium on January 22, 2023 in Orchard Park, New York. (Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images)

The Cleveland Browns are beefing up the offensive line ahead of a playoff run they hope spans the entire month of January and arrives at Super Bowl LVIII in Las Vegas this February.

Cleveland added offensive guard Rodger Saffold to its practice squad on Wednesday, January 3, per the Browns’ official X account.

Saffold is a two-time Pro Bowler, earning the honor in each of the previous two seasons — once as a member of the Tennessee Titans (2021) and last year as a lineman for the Buffalo Bills. He was also a second-team All-Pro with the Los Angeles Rams in 2017.

Saffold, now 35 years old, has not registered a snap this year despite his recent NFL success, though he spent multiple months on the New York Jets‘ practice squad before his release and subsequent addition to the Browns Wednesday.

The offensive guard appeared in 176 games and made 173 starts over 13 years in the league prior to the 2023 campaign. Saffold is eligible to play in the Browns’ season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday — a game with no stakes for Cleveland as the team has already clinched the top Wildcard spot (No. 5 seed) in the AFC Playoffs, which begin on January 13.

Browns Offensive Line Hit Hard by Injuries During 2023 Season

GettyThe Cleveland Browns lost offensive guard Joel Bitonio to injury during an NFL game against the Chicago Bears in December 2023.

The injury bug has bitten Cleveland time and again during the 2023 campaign, with no unit taking as many hits as the offensive line.

It has been the tackle position that has had to bear the brunt of the issues, with starters Jack Conklin and Jedrick Wills Jr. each on injured reserve and out until next season with knee injuries. Rookie tackle Dawand Jones, who filled in for Conklin for several weeks after he suffered a knee injury in the season opener, is also done for the year and the playoffs with a knee injury of his own.

Joel Bitonio and Wyatt Teller, Cleveland’s pair of Pro-Bowl guards, are both currently healthy enough to play/start, though each has been on the injury report this season. Bitonio has missed one full game, while Teller has started all 16 contests to this point.

Rodger Saffold Could Start for Browns in Week 18 Against Bengals

Rodger Saffold

GettyFormer Buffalo Bills offensive lineman Rodger Saffold is a member of the Cleveland Browns as of January 2024.

There is a reasonable chance that Saffold could start in Week 18 regardless, as head coach Kevin Stefanski announced Wednesday that QB Joe Flacco will not play in Cincinnati in favor of backup Jeff Driskel.

Other important players and/or those dealing with injury are thus unlikely to go as well, including wide receivers Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore. The middle of the Browns’ offensive line, which is still among the best in the league when healthy, is all the more important because of the injury problems on the outside at tackle. As such, it safe to assume that Stefanski will sit Bitonio and Teller on Sunday as well, which would then create call for Saffold to start in one of their places.

The extra work may prove crucial for Saffold, who hasn’t played all year, if ends up rotating in off the bench or starting somewhere on the Browns’ offensive line during the playoffs due to injury.

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