When the Patriots traded Chandler Jones to the Cardinals yesterday afternoon, the writing was on the wall that New England would delve into free agency to find a pass rusher that can help provide some depth behind Jabaal Sheard (Jones's replacement) and Rob Ninkovich. The player New England targeted was former Rams defensive end Chris Long, the number two pick in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Long, 30, played all eight of his NFL seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (although he never played a down in LA) and was an excellent player from 2008-2013. Over the course of those first six seasons, Long started 84 of 96 games, totaling 50.5 sacks, 181 solo tackles, 42 assisted tackles, eight passes defended, seven forced fumbles, four fumble recoveries, and one fumble returned for a touchdown. The last two seasons have been a struggle for Long as he started 11 of 18 games (he missed 10 games in 2014 with an injury) and totaled just four sacks, 24 total tackles, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery. The Patriots are hoping that Long can still be effective after the injuries he's dealt with, and if he is healthy, he could be a steal because he's a very talented player.
Long, who's dad Howie is a Hall-of-Fame defensive end that played for the Raiders and is from Massachusetts, is not afraid to speak his mind, similar to his dad. Long took to Twitter last night to express his excitement:
"This is an opportunity and I am so thankful!!! Whatever it takes!! See you soon Boston. GO PATS!"
Assuming Long has a good training camp and makes the team, Patriots fans are going to love his honesty and attitude, as will his teammates and coaches.
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