The St. Louis Rams didn't garner many headlines on a busy Monday inside the NFC West, but the team's name did make an appearance or two on the rumor mill. The Rams and the Bears are said to be the two teams most interested in Dolphins left tackle Jake Long.
FWIW...I keep hearing STL and CHI for Jake Long— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) March 11, 2013
It's been relatively quiet on the Long front. Bears and Rams believed to be among the most interested. We'll see.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 11, 2013
That talk started a couple weeks ago, in Indianapolis at the Combine. Peter King made a mention of the Rams landing a big fish or two in free agency, pointing to Long specifically as an example.
Obviously, tackle is an area of need for the Rams, and Long is the rare upper-tier left tackle to reach the free agent market. He won't come cheap, and the Rams don't have just a ton of cap room to play with, not enough to make two splashes in free agency anyway.
Something else to remember this time of year is that the word "interested" takes on various meanings. You'll note the Bears are mentioned here, a team desperate to sign a tackle for Jay Cutler. Sometimes agents throw out the names of "interested" teams in an effort to gain a little leverage for their client. The Rams have been an accessory to negotiations before. What better way to jack up your client's price than get the jittery Bears ready to open the wallet to finally get Cutler some reliable pass protection.
If the Rams do bring in Long, it sets up a question about Rodger Saffold's future with the team. He would move to the right side this season, the last year on his contract. He would most certainly then leave in free agency to find a left tackle job and the left tackle contracts that go with it.
Saffold's a good young player that's shown enough in his time with the Rams to warrant real consideration as a long-term part of the picture here. Yes, he's had his struggles with injury, as has Jake Long. Move him to guard? Maybe, but that still leaves the Rams in need of a tackle, and Jeff Fisher has made it clear that the team thinks Saffold's best fit is on the outside.
Trivia makes signing Jake Long kind of interesting. Remember, the Rams considered drafting him back in 2008 with the second pick, but the Dolphins negotiated a deal with him ahead of the draft. They went with Chris Long instead, a very good move. Sign Jake Long and the Rams would have the top two players in the 2008 NFL Draft.