The Patriots added DE Chris Long to the team, agreeing to a 1-year deal that is heavily laden with incentives according to reports first announced by ESPN’s Trey Wingo.
Adding Long was a master stroke by Bill Belichick as within hours he was able to swing a trade for DE Chandler Jones to the Arizona Cardinals for a 2nd round draft pick as well as G Jonathan Cooper and then add Long to replace Jones on the roster.
While it is doubtful the Patriots could have retained Jones who was in the final year of his rookie contract, the deal does involve an element of risk. Jones is only 26, and coming off of his best statistical year with 12.5 sacks. With a high premium placed on edge rushers in this season’s free agency, Jones would have commanded big dollars that the Patriots probably wouldn’t be prepared to spend.
In adding Long who will turn 31 on March 28, the Patriots get a very talented DE who was the #2 pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. He’s logged 54.5 sacks in his career but in two injury-shortened seasons in 2014-2015, he’s only managed four. He and LB James Laurinitis were part of a big $24 million-dollar salary dump by the LA Rams earlier this offseason.
But by gaining a much needed 2nd round draft pick and the opportunity to revive the career of Cooper, also a position of need on the offensive line, the chance to strike was there with the Cardinals who desperately needed help with their pass rush.
As we said in our piece yesterday, coupled with Long’s visit on Monday, it was easy to connect the dots and see where this was headed.
Belichick loves adding veteran players on the defensive side of the ball who can come in and add that extra piece to the puzzle and Long who is talented as well as a strong locker room presence is a great fit. However, it isn’t an exact science and one never knows how it will ultimately work out.
Belichick hit on players like Rodney Harrison, Roman Phifer and Andre Carter as well as to an extent Junior Seau later in their careers but swung and missed on guys like Will Smith and Derrick Burgess.
The Patriots are deep at defensive end with veterans Rob Ninkovich, Jabaal Sheard, and last season’s rookie draft picks Geneo Grissom and Trey Flowers. They also brought back Rufus Johnson who played well in preseason before ending up on IR.
Adding Long to the mix is a great move because, if he’s healthy once again, he can bring a dynamic element to the Patriots pass rush. And with their depth, they can limit his snaps to keep him and the others fresh to prevent them from breaking down later in the season and keep a constant stream of pass rushers on the opposition.
Within the space of a few hours, the Patriots sent Jones to the Cardinals, while adding about $5 million dollars in salary cap space, a much needed 2nd round draft pick, a former 1st round pick for their interior offensive line and another former first round pick for the defensive line. While there is no such animal as a sure thing, this was a win-win for both the Patriots and Cardinals and now the Pats have a great deal of flexibility in the upcoming draft.
With no first round draft pick, they have two picks in the second and third rounds, 4 picks in the first 100 and now could move around the board and possibly move up to earlier in the second round if they choose, depending upon how the board plays out.
Long who was scheduled to visit the Dallas Cowboys on his free agent visits canceled that and signed with the Pats. He seems excited for the opportunity and tweeted out, “See you soon Boston”.
Are the Patriots in a better place than they were just 24 hours ago? It most definitely seems that way after this series of events have unfolded. This is a deal that will have to be re-visited once the season is over. But it seems Bill Belichick the GM pulled off a great deal for Bill Belichick the coach in 2016.
So much for a boring free agency period.
Posted Under: Patriots Commentary
Tags: 2016 Free Agency 2016 NFL Free Agency 2016 Patriots Roster 53 Man Roster Projection Bill Belichick Chandler Jones Chris Long Geneo Grissom Jabaal Sheard New England Patriots NFL Patriots Patriots edge rushers Rob Ninkovich Rufus Johnson Trey Flowers