What once promised optimism turned into a vicious slap of reality for the St. Louis Rams in less than a 24-hour period on Friday. There were several reports floating around that the Rams were opening up the checkbook for offensive tackle Jake Long with photos of the two sides actually sitting down at the negotiating table leaked at one point. It turns out that all of that buildup was for not.
Long left St. Louis after a three day stay in the city without a contract on Friday night to head back to his former team, the Miami Dolphins. The 6’7” 319lbs. tackle was cleared medically by the Rams’ team physicians, but a deal that was supposedly being “hammered out” fell through. With more than $17 million in free cap space still remaining even with their shopping spree thus far in free agency, Miami can likely offer Long more than the Rams at this point.
That wasn’t the only potential signing that the Rams missed out on as their hesitance to offer anything more than a one-year deal for safety Louis Delmas prompted him to leave town and sign with his former team, the Detroit Lions.
It isn’t that the Rams have been afraid to spend this offseason as evidenced by their five-year deal to tight end Jared Cook worth $35.1 million that could reach $38.5 million with incentives. The team just appears apprehensive about forking over money to players with any sort of injury history. It’s hard to blame them because players don’t do any good when they are inactive. If a guy can’t consistently get out on the field and make plays, what is the point in paying him beaucoup bucks anyway?
While Delmas is gone now back with the Lions on a two-year, $9.465 million deal, Long remains up for grabs. It would be surprising if the Rams don’t at least make one final push for the tackle before anything definitive takes place. There are still alternatives out there as well in Sebastian Vollmer or the New England Patriots and Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals. While Smith is a fit on the right side, Vollmer has protected Tom Brady’s blindside in New England quite well and could do the same for Sam Bradford in St. Louis.
Things may seem disappointing at the moment as a fan of the Rams, but fear not. This team still has options on the free agent market as well as plenty of ammunition in the upcoming NFL Draft to make some key additions to the roster. The Rams are going to be improved again in 2013, with or without Jake Long on the squad.