There was a sense of optimism around the St. Louis Rams regarding the possibility of adding offensive tackle Jake Long to their roster. According to comments from General Manager Les Snead a few days ago: “We’re still chatting.”
It turns out that Snead wasn’t bluffing as the Rams have indeed landed the massive bookend on a four-year deal that could potentially be worth as much as $36 million. According to reports before this signing, Long was looking for a deal that would pay him somewhere near the $11 million a season that he made during his rookie contract with Miami prior to the new CBA. That market never materialized and the Rams were able to add a terrific blindside protector to their offensive line at a relatively affordable price.
The fact that the two were still in conversations was certainly optimistic a few days ago, but not as upbeat as the fact that the Rams don’t feel as if Long’s laundry list of previous injuries will be a factor in the future. GM Snead went on to say: “What I’ll say is, health is not a problem.” Long underwent a marathon of a physical that lasted more than seven hours during his stay in St. Louis before team physicians felt okay giving him the green light. Injuries have forced the tackle to miss some games in recent years with four games lost in 2012 and two more in 2011. Problems with his shoulders and knees forced Long to miss time in 2011 before a torn triceps ended the year for good and last year a torn triceps was again the issue.
Clearly adding Long to an offensive line that has been less than stellar during quarterback Sam Bradford’s three years in town is a major upgrade. It also affords the team some added flexibility in April’s NFL Draft where they hold two first round picks. It’s been widely assumed that the club would use one of those selections on an offensive lineman, but now that Long has been added, that issue slides down the list of priorities with wide receiver and safety moving to the top.
At 6’7” 319lbs., Long will be the ideal blindside protector for Bradford and Head Coach Jeff Fisher said last week that he believed Rodger Saffold would be “fine” with moving to the right side. That pairing will give the Rams two tackles in the prime of their respective careers that can hopefully help accelerate the growth of their now fourth year quarterback. There may have been just a sense of optimism in St. Louis prior to this signing, but now it is palpable.