(FootballStL) -- The St. Louis Rams unveiled their latest protection plan for Sam Bradford on Thursday. Meet Jake Long.
After initially meeting with the Rams a few weeks ago, the top free agent offensive tackle had to make a major decision whether to leave the organization that drafted him in Miami for a team trying to build a winning attitude that has long been absent in St. Louis.
The four-time Pro Bowler and his wife slept on the decision and chose to sign a reported four-year, $36 million deal on March 18.
“I can’t speak for (the Dolphins). All I can say about Miami is they gave me my start in the NFL,” Long said. “Mr. (Stephen) Ross is an amazing owner. I have nothing but great things to say about him and the fans and the teammates I played with there.
“It was just time to move on. It was time to make a decision. I wanted to go somewhere and this was the right decision for myself and my wife. I’m very happy to be a part of St. Louis.”
Long joins an offensive line that has been a work-in-progress for the better part of a decade. In the last three seasons, Bradford has been sacked 105 times in 42 games played which has made the offensive tackle position, like the rest of the line, a major question mark for the Rams.
“I’m going to bring what I always bring: leadership,” Long said. “I’m going to come in day one and I’m the type of guy that leads by example. I love to come to practice and work, get better every single day, learn from the coaches and just try to help this offense, this team win games and I’m going to do everything I can to help this team get better.”
Even before his four Pro Bowl seasons and after an outstanding college career at the University of Michigan, scouts have been high on Long’s leadership.
The following was posted to NFL.com after the scouting combine in 2008: “Vocal team captain who will not hesitate to take a teammate to task...Has a true passion for the game, playing with a warrior-like mentality” and “Hard worker who will do anything the coaches ask and is a model for good work ethic, especially in the weight room.”
Four months removed from triceps surgery, Long is on the mend and began working with the team’s training staff this week in hopes to be ready for spring workouts.
“I’m feeling great,” Long said. “I’m feeling strong and working real hard, just ready to get back out on the field, and get all this rehab stuff behind me and feeling great. This is the best I’ve felt in years, maybe ever.”
The player Long will replace, Rodger Saffold, has not spoken to the team since the signing, but Jeff Fisher said he is confident things will work out in the end for both sides.
“We’ve been trying to reach Rodger and he’s not returning calls right now, but we will get things settled,” Fisher said. “Rodger is a big part of our future, big part of our plans on offense.”