On the Rams' interest in tackle Jake Long

Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' expected visit with Miami Dolphins free-agent offensive tackle Jake Long:

  • Clear need: Sixteen players have started on the Rams' offensive line over the past two seasons. The team badly needs stability on its line. Long would stabilize the line.

  • Protecting Sam: The Rams must give quarterback Sam Bradford a chance for success. They invested in center Scott Wells last offseason. Signing Long would improve the odds of St. Louis winning its bet on Bradford.

  • Win-win situation: Bradford, like Long, was the first player selected in his draft class. Agent Tom Condon represents both players. Getting the right deal for Long in St. Louis would help Bradford, Long, Condon and the Rams.

  • Philosophy: As teams figure out how best to allocate money in free agency, the Rams are on record saying they value substantial investments over mid-level ones. Chief operating officer Kevin Demoff put it this way at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: "If you have $8 million to spend in free agency, you might be better off spending $7 million on one guy and $1 million on the other than buying two players at $4 million." A deal for Long would be a lot closer to the high end than the low end.

  • 2008 revisited: Long was the first pick of the 2008 draft. The Rams drafted defensive end Chris Long second overall that year. They could wind up having both players if talks with Jake Long head in the right direction. Defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey, chosen fifth overall by Kansas City that year, was another consideration for the Rams in that 2008 draft. He's a free agent as well.

  • Saffold's role: Jake Long would start at left tackle for the Rams. Incumbent left tackle Rodger Saffold could move to guard or right tackle if the Rams signed Jake Long.

  • Flexibility: Signing Long would give the Rams greater flexibility with their two first-round choices this year. Coach Jeff Fisher's teams have never used a first-round choice for an offensive lineman while Fisher was head coach. That streak would be more likely to continue if the Rams signed Long.