According to Jarrett Bell of USA Today, offensive tackle Jake Long signed a four-year deal with the St. Louis Rams Sunday after five seasons with the Miami Dolphins. Long’s four-year deal is reportedly worth $34 million plus an extra $2 million in incentives.
The 2008 No. 1 overall draft pick missed the last four games of last season with the Dolphins due to a left triceps injury. Though Long struggled in 2012 due to injury, the four-time Pro Bowler passed physicals in St. Louis earlier last week that led to the signing Sunday.
The Rams failed to make the playoffs last season after losing two of their last three games, but have landed one of the most coveted offensive tackles in free agency this offseason. Long was pursued by multiple teams up until his eventual signing with the Rams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to ESPN’sAdam Schefter.
After being drafted No. 1 overall in 2008, Long signed a deal with the Dolphins that guaranteed him $30 million, almost double the amount of his new contract with the Rams. The extreme drop in salary just comes to show Long’s decline on the field.
Nevertheless, the Rams addition of Long gives them more depth on the offensive line and should give Sam Bradford more time to work with in the pocket. Long is expected to play on the left side of the offensive line, moving Roger Saffold to right tackle.
The Rams lost running back Steven Jackson last week after he signed with the Atlanta Falcons. Not one of the remaining backs on the Rams’ roster has more than two-years of NFL experience, which should become a priority for the Rams if they expect to contend in the NFC West.
Signing one of the best tackles in free agency is great, but the Rams will need to find a better running back to compliment the pick-up of Long. The Rams also lost wide receiver Danny Amendola after he signed with the New England Patriots five days ago. The Rams currently have just five wide receivers left on their roster, most notably Chris Givens who led the team in 2012 with 698 receiving yards.
As you can see, there are many holes the Rams’ must fill before the start of the 2013 season. St. Louis finished near the bottom of the NFL in most offensive categories in 2012, so signing a few more players that can help Sam Bradford wouldn’t hurt. Jake Long’s signing is a pretty good start for the Rams, but there is still plenty of work to be done if they have any plans of returning to the playoffs next season.