The St. Louis Rams signaled their commitment to building a winner right prior to the start of training camp, agreeing to terms with defensive end Chris Long on a 4-year deal extension thru the 2016 season.
Getting the deal done before training camp was a priority for Long.
“It’s huge for me,” Long said after a 2-hour workout stopped early Sunday night. “You like to know where you stand, and I feel really great about obviously their commitment to me. When it turns around, I want to take part in it.”
Getting other core players locked up is a concern for the new regime led by Coach Jeff Fisher.
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis may be next on the list given that, like Long, he’s entering the final year of his deal. The Rams had preliminary talks with RB Steven Jackson, coming off his 7th sequential 1,000-yard season and signed for 2 more years.
The St. Louis Rams were 2-14 last year, tied for the worst record in the NFL, and have averaged just 3 victories the last 5 seasons. Under Fisher, back in training after a year off from the NFL, they’re spending like winners.
“He’s not the only one we’re working on,” Fisher said about Long. “We’re just happy. He’s had a good start to his career, and we want to give him an opportunity to actually settle in here and be one of the mainstays on our defense.”
Jackson, who reported to camp with 5% body fat, asserted he gave Long “a big hug” when he learned about the new agreement.
“I think he was one of the pillars of our defense last year and he’s deserving of what he just signed,” Jackson announced. “It’s actually pleasant to see some guys drafted and not move. In fact we keep them around, so I was actually stoked for him.”
As for his future with the Rams, Jackson referenced his career feats and asserted he wasn’t anxious about it, adding “I’m here ready to work.” Football spreads
The 27-year-old Long was 7th in the NFL with 13 sacks last year, topping his prior best of 8 sacks, and had a 3-sack game against the Saints. He had been entering the final year of a 6-year, $56.5 million deal he signed after the Rams drafted him No. 2 overall in 2008 out of Virginia.
The 6th year of the agreement was voided after Long met certain incentives. Although the Rams have plenty of income cap space, Long’s cap number for 2012 was $18.3 million.
“It’s good to talk about because I’m excited to be here for 5 more years,” Long related. “That’s why I like talking about because I’m excited about the future.
“We’ve got a bunch of guys working very hard out here for same goals, to win a championship.”
Long’s sack total has increased every season. Last year he had a 6-game sack streak and totaled 10 in a 9-game stretch despite nursing a high left ankle sprain that limited him in practice. He also led the Rams with 15 QB pressures and 16 QB hits.