ST. LOUIS — In an effort to better protect quarterback Sam Bradford, the St. Louis Rams reached a contract agreement late Sunday night with four-time Pro Bowl left tackle Jake Long.
The four-year deal reportedly could be worth up to $36 million.
Long, 27, was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft out of the University of Michigan.
Had the Miami Dolphins not taken Long, the Rams almost certainly would have grabbed him. Instead, the Rams took defensive end Chris Long with the No. 2 overall pick.
Jake Long was voted to the Pro Bowl in each of his first four seasons in the NFL, but he's been less dominant the last two seasons due to injuries.
Long ended each of the last two seasons on injured reserve, missing the final game in 2011 due to a torn right biceps and the final four games in 2012 due to a left triceps injury.
According to Pro Football Focus, Long ranked 45th among all NFL offensive tackles last season by allowing 21 quarterback pressures (sacks, hurries and hits) in 745 plays.
Long spent three days in St. Louis last week as the Rams checked him out medically.
"He's a very, very talented player, and he's still got a lot left,'' Rams coach Jeff Fisher said of Long last week.
The signing of Long marks another off-the-field victory by the Rams over the Dolphins.
The Rams also beat out the Dolphins for the services of tight end Jared Cook, who signed a five-year, $35.1 million contract last week.
Then there was last offseason when Fisher chose the Rams over the Dolphins in his return to the NFL coaching ranks after a one-year absence.
While the Rams' offensive line showed improvement last season, Bradford still was sacked 35 times, tying him with Baltimore's Joe Flacco and Miami's Ryan Tannehill as the eighth most sacked quarterback in the NFL.
The addition of Long means Rodger Saffold likely will shift from left tackle to right tackle.
Saffold's agent last week publicly stated that his client wouldn't be happy with a move to the right side, but Fisher dismissed the claim saying he'd talked to Saffold about it and Saffold was "fine'' with the move.
The 6-foot-7, 319-pound Long attended Lapeer (Mich.) East High School, where he was the first player in school history earn All-State Dream Team honors in football. He also starred in basketball as a center and baseball as a first baseman.
Though he was an offensive linemen, Long often lined up at fullback and he scored four career touchdowns.
Long became a starter in the third game of his red-shirt season at Michigan. He earned Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-Big Ten recognition in 2006 and 2007. He was a consensus first-team All-American in 2006, and a unanimous first-team All-American in 2007.
Long agreed to a five-year, $57.75 million deal with the Dolphins a few days prior to the 2008 NFL Draft, making him the highest paid offensive lineman in league history.
Long had an immediate impact for the Dolphins, giving up just two sacks his rookie season.
Long started 61 straight games for the Dolphins before a back ailment snapped the streak in 2011.
Long's younger brother, Joe, spent training camp with the Rams last year. Joe Long is currently on the Pittsburgh Steelers' roster.
Contact reporter Steve Korte at firstname.lastname@example.org or 239-2522.