Free-agent offensive lineman Jake Long has agreed to a deal with the Atlanta Falcons, according to the team's Twitter account. The team has yet to announce the details of Long's contract.
Long was the first overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and went on to appear in four Pro Bowls over the course of his first four seasons. He was also named a first-team All-Pro player in 2010 and to the second team in 2009. At his best, Long is one of the most dominant tackles in the NFL.
Unfortunately, Long hasn't been at his best in quite some time. He's dealt with back injuries, torn biceps and the big one: a torn ACL. That torn ACL was with his most recent team, the St. Louis Rams, after the team gave him a four-year, $36 million contract in 2013. Long wound up sustaining the torn ACL early in the 2014 season and was released in March 2015.
But the Falcons need the depth on the offensive line. Jake Matthews is coming off a strained back and Ryan Schraeder doesn't inspire a ton of confidence at the right tackle spot. Long isn't going to come in and be a starter right away. According to NFL Network's Albert Breer, the team plans to start him off at left tackle before moving him over to the right side. Still, if the Falcons think there's anything missing when it comes to protecting Matt Ryan and keeping him upright, Long could be pressed into duty sooner.
At this point, Long is coming off back-to-back seasons with torn ACLs, and that's a huge reason why he remained on the open market so long. That said, Long was content to wait and be patient, as teams inevitably need offensive line help as the season progresses. It's likely his signing came at this stage because the deadline for vested veterans to have their contracts guaranteed passed with the start of the regular season.
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