ESPN’s Trey Wingo first reported and was lately confirmed by the team that former Los Angeles Rams defensive end Chris Long is set to visit the Atlanta Falcons today. Long is the second ex-Rams player to visit this offseason after the team brought linebacker James Laurinaitis to town for a Tuesday visit earlier this week.
Along with Laurinaitis, Long was released by the Rams last month after eight seasons with the team. He was initially selected one spot ahead of Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan with the second overall selection in the 2008 NFL Draft.
Long was productive early in his Rams career, tallying 50.5 sacks through his first six seasons. During that time, he appeared in every game while earning 84 starts. He led the Rams with a career-high 13 sacks in 2011 and followed that up with a team-leading 11.5 sacks in 2012.
However beginning in 2014, Long was sidetracked by injuries. He missed 10 games that year due to a broken ankle and his productive dipped to just one sack. The following year, he was slowed by a hyperextended knee that kept him out of four games during midseason. He rebounded somewhat but earned just three sacks in 12 games, while starting just five due to losing snaps to veteran William Hayes.
Long is the son of Hall-of-Fame defensive end Howie Long, who suited up for the Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders from 1981 to 1993. Chris’ younger brother Kyle currently is a three-time Pro Bowl offensive tackle for the Chicago Bears.
Long turns 31 later this month and visited the Washington Redskins already this offseason. But indicated to some sources that he is only interested in signing with a Super-Bowl contender after the Rams failed to have a winning season during Long’s eight-year run with the team.
The Falcons are looking to improve a pass rush that ranked last in the NFL with 19 sacks in 2015. Long could potentially help after the team was already successful in adding free agent Derrick Shelby and re-signed Adrian Clayborn. If healthy as he was earlier in his career, Long could potentially provide a spark as a rotational piece.