When left tackle Jake Long left St. Louis after a three-day stay without a contract, it appeared as though the Dolphins' chance to keep their No. 1 overall draft pick from 2008 had dramatically increased.
Maybe so, but in the end, Long eschewed Miami (and the pleadings of his left guard) anyway and will start life with a new team in 2013, as the Rams announced that the four-time Pro Bowler has signed a deal to play in St. Louis.
Pro Football Talk was the first to report it. According to PFT, the contract is a four-year deal worth as much as $36 million with incentives and $16 million guaranteed.
The Rams "really made me feel welcome, my wife and I," Long told the St. Louis Post Dispatch. "It was such a great family atmosphere. It was something I wanted to be a part of."
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The inability to sign Long is disappointing for Miami, which has spent a large amount of money upgrading the offense this offseason, placing weapons like receiver Mike Wallace and tight end Dustin Keller around quarterback Ryan Tannehill while re-signing receiver Brian Hartline.
The Rams, meanwhile, have been relatively quiet in free agency -- their only big splash came when they signed tight end Jared Cook. But the Long signing has to make Rams quarterback Sam Bradford a happy man (though current left tackle Rodger Saffold can't be pleased to be moving out of his position -- he's probably headed for right tackle).
There are, however, real questions about Long's future viability. He was hurt for much of 2012 and didn't play well. And though the Rams' medical staff cleared Long after what was reportedly an extensive and long physical exam, you have to wonder if Long is still the same player whom he was, say, two years ago.
As for the Dolphins, the Palm Beach Post's Ben Volin points out that the Dolphins could move Jonathan Martin, who took over Long's spot for the final four games of last season when he went on the IR list with a torn triceps, to the left tackle spot permanently. Or they could keep Martin at right tackle and use the No. 12 overall draft pick in April to select another franchise left tackle.
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