It’s been a long time coming, but the St. Louis Rams finally inked linebacker James Laurinaitis to a much anticipated contract extension on Saturday. The deal is for five years, $41.5 and comes just 24 hours shy of the club kicking off the 2012 season against the Detroit Lions. This contract solidifies the Rams young defense, which has plenty of promise for years to come.
Defensive end Chris Long signed his extension earlier in the offseason, and many were left to wonder just when the deal would get done with Laurinaitis. He is a tackling machine and at just 25 years of age, he is a key component in the NFL’s youngest roster. The team now has a great veteran influence at each level on defense with Long, Laurinaitis, and recently signed Cortland Finnegan in the secondary.
Youth is the way of the future in the NFL, as rookies are getting more and more playing time every year. Laurinaitis commented earlier in the offseason on how he felt about the Rams mixture of youth and experience as he said: “We have guys that are veterans and you are pairing them with young guys and I think that is important. You don’t want just a young guy to be the biggest guy in a room. You want him paired with people so that he gets it: ‘OK, this is how I show up, this is how I’m accountable, this is how I’m a pro, this is what’s expected of me. I think it’s important. They’ve done a great job of really filling this roster out.”
Laurinaitis may have been the team’s second-round pick in the 2009 draft, but he has quickly become one of the most important players for the Rams on the field. This deal will have him with the franchise through 2017 while Long, the other big component of the defense, is under contract through 2016. Needless to say, the future is plenty bright for a young, up-and-coming Rams defensive unit.
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