It wasn't long ago that Jake Long was in the discussion for best left tackle in the NFL. Injuries have taken their toll in recent years but, even though he may not be among the best in the league, Long is expected to draw significant interest on the free agent market.
The St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears could be among the interested teams, according to Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com. The Rams and Bears have had their fair share of offensive line issues in recent seasons but, at this point in his career, Long may not be the solution. The 27-year-old Long is reportedly healthy, but is also reportedly searching for a contract that pays $11 million annually.
That is a high price to pay for a player with serious injury concerns. Despite their offensive line issues, Long may not be an obvious upgrade at left tackle for either the Bears or Rams. Rodger Saffold started 10 games at left tackle for St. Louis last season and graded out well according to Pro Football Focus. Saffold amassed a plus-8.6 PFF grade, the 30th-best grade for a tackle.
J'Marcus Webb started all 16 games at left tackle for Chicago and, while he didn't grade out as well -- finishing with a minus-0.8 grade -- he was far from the biggest issue for the Bears. In 12 starts last season, Long finished with a minus-0.4 PFF grade.
Long could make sense for both teams if either he or the incumbent moves to right tackle. Chicago's right-tackle play was among the worst in the NFL while St. Louis' starter, Barry Richardson, is also a free agent. An annual salary of $11 million is likely too high for a right tackle, so either Long's price tag needs to drop or a current starter may need to shuffle along the line.