Friday morning the Los Angeles Rams made some interesting roster moves and among them was the team releasing veteran defensive lineman Chris Long. The Rams also cut veteran linebacker James Laurinaitis and veteran tight end Jared Cook on the day as the team appears to be gearing for a new life in sunny California.
The Chargers have a glaring need on the defensive line, but would Chris Long make a good fit? The Chargers need a veteran presence within the defensive unit. No question there. He could bring a sort of nastiness also that the defense lacked from time to time last season.
The 30-year-old former #1 pick (second overall) has had a very productive career but has been riddled recently by injuries. Long was only able to start five games this season and six the season before. He has battled knee and ankle injures the last two seasons and really wasn’t healthy for the Rams at all. Perhaps getting out of a turf field and into a new uniform can provide some stability to his once promising career. One would think Long still has some gas left in the tank.
In a rotation with another player, Long could be very productive. The defensive line needs a nose tackle type player more than anything, but Long could provide some much-needed depth on the end of the line. Finding a big run stuffing nose tackle is no easy task. The team will instead look to address that issue with a very deep defensive line unit in this years draft. Or at least that appears to be the plan.
Chris Long teamed up with Melvin Ingram, Jeremiah Attaochu and Kyle Emanuel on the line would equal instant quarterback pressure. The play from the veteran Long reminds many of former Charger Jarret Johnson. Like Johnson, Chris Long would bring a tough veteran presence to the team. Something that could really go a long way in developing the young defensive players on the Chargers.
The son of Howie Long was once an unstoppable force for the Rams. He averaged over 10 sacks per season in a four-year run from 2010-2013. Chris Long is more than capable of being productive, but what kind of price tag are we talking about?
The Chargers are reportedly $31-34 million dollars under the cap for the 2016 season. The team has the means to spend money on free agents, but is it worth the Chargers time to pursue a 30-year-old defensive lineman with a recent history of injury troubles? Long would have to take a team friendly deal, but that is not really out of the realm of possibilities.
The Chargers despite their horrible 2015 season, are built to win now. The team in reality is not far from competing in a tough AFC Western division. Philip Rivers is an elite quarterback and he is not getting any younger. The Chargers want to win now. They will spend money to fill their holes on the field.
With Eric Weddle and Antonio Gates both free agents, there are tons of questions for the Chargers. Both veteran Chargers are due huge salaries in 2016 and the team could very easily move on from them. Reports indicate the team is ready to move on from Weddle, but Gates could still be retained at a discounted rate. We will see what the Chargers intend to do.
Losing Weddle on defense would be rough, but adding a veteran like Long would soften that blow and help the younger players on the team like Jason Verrett and Denzel Perryman take over. The Chargers have a young, up and coming defense and with some wise addition here and there, the team could be very special.
Coach Mike McCoy has his work cut out for him. A slow start in 2016 would surely cost him his job. With a vote scheduled for November, the Chargers MUST start the season hot and help gain support for the team. Let’s face it. How they are doing in the standings will have a direct result in the voting booth. The Chargers should most definitely kick the tires on Long and if he can be brought in a decent price, then by all means do it. He would help in the locker room and the field. His professional attitude will help cultivate this young Chargers team into a championship caliber team. The ball is in your court Mr. Telesco.