As it turned out, Miami Dolphins guard Richie Incognito's Twitter campaign to keep teammate Jake Long didn't have as much pull as a future with the St. Louis Rams. That's where Long, the first overall pick in the 2008 draft, and a four-time Pro Bowler, will play left tackle in the future. On Sunday night, the Rams announced that they have agreed to terms with Long on a four-year deal. The contract is worth $34 million (a possible $36 million in total if incentives are maxed out) with $16 million guaranteed, and another $4 million that will become guaranteed in 2014, according to Pro Football Talk.
Long, who started every game in his first three seasons, missed a total of six games in the last two campaigns, including the last four games of the 2012 season with a left triceps injury. Those injuries have led to an overall decline in Long's play of late -- in those 12 games, per Pro Football Focus, he allowed four sacks and 21 pressures in just 390 pass-blocking snaps. Roger Saffold, the man who will be moving from left to right tackle now that Long has signed, allowed just two sacks and 16 pressures in 10 games.
Long had spent most of this last week in St. Louis, taking a bevy of physical tests so that the Rams could get a sense of his overall health. He flew back to Miami on Friday, leading some to assume that Long and the Rams were too far apart on money, and that the Dolphins would make a final push to retain him.
It's not known how much the Dolphins tried to up the ante after a busy free-agency period, but Long is now out of their picture. According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Pittsburgh Steelers also made a late play for Long.
“It was a tough decision,” Long told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I came in for a visit and Coach [Jeff] Fisher and [CEO] Kevin Demoff and [general manager] Les Snead were amazing. I just fell in love with their vision and the entire organization. And all the great things they had to say about [Rams owner] Mr. [Stan] Kroenke and the way they go about football.
“They really made me feel welcome — my wife and I. It was such a great family atmosphere. It was something I wanted to be a part of. But in the end I wanted to think it through, make the right decision because Miami was amazing to me. Took me No. 1. [Dolphins owner] Mr. [Stephen] Ross and I have a great relationship. This was my home for the last five years, and I just wanted to make sure I made the right decision and I’m happy with the decision I made.”
When Long was hurt, right tackle Jonathan Martin kicked over to the left side, and allowed two sacks and 21 total pressures in five games. Martin, selected in the second round of the 2012 draft, would be the favorite to replace Long on the left side, unless the Dolphins take a closer look at that possibility and refocus their efforts at left tackle in the draft.