Despite being limited to 18 games over the last two seasons and performing below expectations when he was on the field, free-agent defensive end Chris Long has agreed to terms with the New England Patriots, according to ESPN's Trey Wingo.
The deal is for one year, per Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.
Long, who turns 31 in March, recorded only 19 tackles and three sacks in 12 games last season. He spent his entire career with the Rams organization after they took him No. 2 overall in the 2008 draft. Long is one of football's best defensive players to never make a Pro Bowl, as injuries have seemingly cut his prime short.
Ankle surgery limited him to six games in 2014, and Long came back this past season a far different player. He suffered a knee injury five games into the campaign and never fully recovered despite missing only four contests.
After recording a pair of sacks in the Rams' first four games, Long waited until Week 16 to record another, and he notched only nine solo tackles all year. His five starts were the second-lowest total of his career.
Long wrote the following in an Instagram post in February (warning: link contains profanity):
Bottom line is- this is a production business. No excuses, the last two years have been s--t. It's been painful to experience because I care deeply about my performance and my responsibility to my teammates. Before the last two years I'm very proud of what I was able to accomplish in St. Louis. I'm not surprised, but it doesn't make it any easier to leave your family.
Before the last two years, Long had been remarkably healthy. He played in all 16 games in his first six seasons and had a streak of 97 straight appearances snapped when he went down in 2014. At 31, it's possible the Patriots are buying low, and Long could be in store for a bounce-back season.
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