The offseason to date has been an eventful one for the St. Louis Rams with the hiring of a new Head Coach in Jeff Fisher and a new General Manager in Les Snead, but more has transpired in terms of player personnel than anywhere else. Leading up to the NFL Draft in April, the club made a blockbuster deal to send the second overall pick to the Washington Redskins for a bounty of first round draft choices in the future.
While that certainly bodes well for the club’s long-term success, recent news that the team’s COO Kevin Demoff released saying that the Rams’ have begun preliminary contract extension discussions with both linebacker James Laurinaitis and defensive end Chris Long is even more positive.
Both players are still young and entering the prime of their respective careers. Each would be wise investments for the club and Demoff has said that the Rams have “plenty of cap room in 2013 and the plan is to re-sign both of them.”
Long’s five-year rookie contract signed as a first rounder in 2008 is set to expire after the 2012 season while Laurinaitis has a four-year deal that he signed as second round choice in 2009 set to run out as well. Both are vital to a young, rebuilding defense with very few incumbent players.
Demoff seems optimistic that the two will remain Rams as he went on to say: “We have been focused on clearing up our salary-cap situation over the past few years to make sure in 2013 we had the available space to re-sign our key core young players, such as Long and Laurinaitis. We’re in the process of starting initial conversations with both players, and I’m optimistic that both will wear the horns for years to come.”
2011 was a year to forget for most members of the Rams, but Laurinaitis excelled with 142 tackles, three sacks, and two interceptions. Long had similar success with 37 tackles and 13 sacks with one forced fumble on the year.
Change has been the main theme for the Rams thus far this offseason, but at middle linebacker and defensive end, the team would prefer to stay the same. If this news about preliminary contract talks is any indication, the franchise may be well on its way to locking up two of the key components to a young, developing defense.