With two injury riddled seasons behind him, Chris Long is putting his Los Angeles Rams past behind him, and looking forward to a new team and challenge, with the New England Patriots, Dallas Cowboys, Washington Redskins and the Atlanta Falcons having him on his shortlist, but that might not be the end of it.
Long will visit and workout with the Patriots, probably the team on the top of his shortlist. The Rams released him on February 19, avoiding the $14.25 million cap hit on the final year of his deal in 2016. By releasing him the Rams save$11.75 million in cap relief after Long twice helped the Rams in the previous years improve their cap situation by converting salary into bonus and overall, taking something of a pay cut.
Long wants to play on a Super Bowl contender, after not being in the postseason even once since entering the league. He was the second overall pick in the 2008 draft coming out of Virginia, playing his entire career for the Rams, appearing in all 16 games six seasons in a row before his injury issues came up in 2014 and 2015, limiting him to just 18 appearances over the last two seasons, although sources around Long claim he’s back to 100%, which isn’t surprising to hear them claim.
The Rams’ defensive line coach from 2009 to 2011, Brendan Daly, is a defensive assistant on the Patriots, giving Long something of a connection, which is always helpful. The Patriots let Akiem Hicks go to free agency (signed with the Bears) which means they need some pass rush help. Long isn’t going to be as expensive as in the past, and probably wouldn’t mind playing less than every snap and down out there as he approaches his 31st birthday.
Other suitors? He’s already met with the Falcons (who seemed like the top target earlier on) and the Redskins and has one visit scheduled with the Cowboys later this week. However, if things go well for him in New England, he might never have to show up to that Cowboys visit. All four teams could use some pass rush help. Long has 54.5 career sacks in 114 games, including 41.5 sacks from 2010 through 2013.