Hours after the Patriots complete a blockbuster deal with the Cardinals to acquire guard Jonathan Cooper & their 2nd round pick for defensive end Chandler Jones, the team may have signed his replacement. Per Trey Wingo of ESPN, the Patriots have signed former Rams defensive end Chris Long to a one year deal.
After being released a month ago by the Rams, Chris Long has finally picked his home for 2016 after being pursued by multiple teams. Long is an eight-year veteran who is coming off a couple of disappointing seasons. He played six games in 2014 & 12 games in 2015, for a total of 18 games out of a possible 36. In that time span, he has recorded only four sacks along with 24 total tackles. Prior to that, Long had never missed a game in his first six years as a player and recorded 50.5 sacks, with him having four seasons of at least eight and a half sacks.
Long was receiving interest from at least four teams, including the Patriots along with the Falcons, Cowboys, and Redskins. Long met with the Patriots yesterday but left without a contract originally and was scheduled to meet again with the Cowboys. NFL Network's Albert Breer reports that Chris Long was at his home in Virginia and that the Patriots got Long to agree to a deal before he could meet with the Cowboys.
This comes off the heels of a mega trade that happened between the Patriots and the Cardinals today that included extremely talented defensive end Chandler Jones being dealt to the Cardinals for offensive guard Jonathan Cooper and a second round draft pick. With Chandler Jones' production needing to be replaced along with his starting spot on the field opposite Rob Ninkovich, Chris Long could be the perfect short-term addition. The Patriots have a bevy of young talent behind Ninkovich & Long that includes Geneo Grissom, Trey Flowers, Rufus Johnson and outside linebacker/edge player Jabaal Sheard. Knowing the Patriots (and their now 11 draft picks in the 2016 NFL Draft), the team will be sure to add more young talent as Chris Long will be turned 31 in less than two weeks and Rob Ninkovich is 32.
Long's deal is probably no more than around four million dollars loaded with performance-based incentives. It's a safe signing for a player who has fought injuries the past two years. Even with the departure of Chandler Jones, the Patriots are still looking strong on the defensive end and overall as well.