There are two things that I love about Long's new contract. First, the Rams are showing a true commitment to a player who was due to become a free agent after this season. General manager Les Snead chose to invest the money now to keep him with the team instead of entering a potential bidding war with other clubs in the offseason. It's been a long time since I've seen the Rams front office take the proactive approach towards player contracts. It's a breath of fresh air.
The other thing I love about this deal is Long's willingness to sign the extension. The Rams are 15-65 in the last five seasons. Most star athletes would be running for the hills after playing for a team with such an inept record, but Long wanted to stay in St. Louis.
"It's huge for me," Long said. "You like to know where you stand and I feel really good about obviously their commitment to me. When it turns around, I want to be a part of it."
It says a lot about Long's character and loyalty that he wants to stick around. Yet his decision to sign the extension also means that he believes that the Les Snead-Jeff Fisher regime is making a difference with this franchise. Long obviously thinks that the Rams have turned a corner; otherwise, he never would have given up his chance to hit the free agent market.
The Rams still have a lot of work to do if they are going earn a spot amongst the NFL's elite teams. Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis will also be a free agent after this season, and it's important that the club re-sign its defensive leader to a long-term deal. If Snead can get it done, I'm confident the Rams defense will eventually develop into one of the league's best sooner rather than later.
Derek Ciapala has been a Rams fan since he was a child and the team was in Los Angeles. His favorite Rams moments include Flipper Anderson's 336-yard receiving night against the Saints in 1989, and their miracle 1999 run to their first Super Bowl victory. You can follow him on Twitter @dciapala and Facebook.
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