The Atlanta Falcons officially announced the move that had been expected today, signing offensive tackle Jake Long to a one-year contract according to ESPN’s Vaughn McClure. To make room for the veteran tackle, the Falcons cut veteran safety Charles Godfrey.
Long, 30, is a seven-year veteran and the former No. 1 overall selection of the Miami Dolphins in the 2008 draft. He spent the past two years playing with the St. Louis Rams, where his seasons ended prematurely thanks to consecutive ACL tears in his right knee. He has long battled injuries throughout his NFL career, finishing each of the past four seasons on injured reserve, missing the end of the 2011 and 2012 seasons with torn biceps and triceps, respectively. Long has 96 career starts, but has missed a combined 16 games due to injury over the past four seasons. He began his NFL career recognized as one of the league’s premier left tackles, earning Pro Bowl bids in 2008, 2009 and 2010.
According to Falcons head coach Dan Quinn, Long is expected to back up current starters Jake Matthews and Ryan Schraeder at tackle. Long has spent all of his NFL career and the final two years of his collegiate career at Michigan playing exclusively on the left side and per Quinn, the Falcons will begin him there. Eventually, the Falcons will work him in at right tackle, making him into an effective swing tackle.
Godfrey was re-signed by the Falcons to a one-year deal this offseason after making very limited appearances with the team in the second half of 2014. He began last season with the Carolina Panthers, working as that team’s nickel cornerback despite spending the previous six years of his career starting 74 games at both free and strong safety. His poor performances at cornerback led to him being cut after seven games.
Godfrey was expected to compete with Ricardo Allen for the vacant starting spot at free safety this summer, but quickly fell behind during the offseason. Godfrey eventually spent the bulk of the preseason as the team’s third-string strong safety.