Being successful every year has given the New England Patriots one huge advantage over the NFL's 31 other teams: Players are willing to sign in New England for less money than they could get on the open market.

Take Chris Long for instance.

The former Rams defensive end left a lot of money on the table when he signed with the Patriots on March 16, at least according to his dad, Howie Long.

Howie says that his son could've gotten a bigger pay check somewhere else, but he signed with the Patriots because he wants to win a Super Bowl.

Let's go ahead and chalk that up as another free agent win for the "Patriot Way."

"I know he could have gotten more money in other places," Long told this week. "He probably would have been slotted right off the bat, but you go there for less money and you go there knowing you have to earn everything you get, and he's excited about that opportunity with that one goal in mind -- having the opportunity to be there at the end and playing relevant games and having a shot at a championship."

Chris hasn't really ever played in any "relevant" games in the NFL. The second-overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, Chris and the Rams didn't make the playoffs once during his eight seasons in St. Louis. Not only that, but the team never even had a winning record. 

"As a former player, [playoff games] are the games that mean something and for me, being part of a world championship team is special and something you never forget," Howie said. "He hasn't played in meaningful games [at the end of the year]."

Howie, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2000, believes that Chris will be a perfect fit in New England. 

"I've always felt like, in my mind, the way they play, prepare, and go about their business on a day-in, day-out basis, that Chris is a Patriots-type player," Howie said. "I think it's a good marriage, I really do. It's an exciting opportunity for Chris."

Basically, it sounds like a Super Bowl ring is more important than money to Chris, who turned 31 on Monday and probably doesn't have many years left in the NFL. 

"At this point in his career, why do you play? You play to have an opportunity to win," Howie said. "It's an organization, in the last 15 years they've won 13 divisions and been to six Super Bowls, winning four. They came very close to winning the other two. So if you want to have an opportunity to swing for the fence, and be around like-minded people, they have that in abundance there."

It's easy to see why players are willing to take a pay cut to play in New England, because if Tom Brady is willing to do it, you probably should, too. 

Chris Long took a pay cut to play in New England. (USATSI)
Chris Long took a pay cut to play in New England. (USATSI)