The Rams haven’t drafted well — to be kind — since the Dick Vermeil years. They did hit on two defenders over the past few drafts, though, and Chris Long and James Laurinaitis are now entering contract seasons.
Rams V.P. of Football Operations Kevin Demoff stated in a recent chat via the team’s official website that the organization is “in the process of starting initial conversations” regarding long-term extensions for Long and Laurinaitis.
Per NFLPA records, Long is due a $10.31 million base salary in 2012. The defensive end hit rookie-contract escalators that spiked his salary, and the Rams could actually free up cap room by signing him long term. Long, 27, posted a career-high 13 sacks last season, and his sack totals have increased each year he’s been in the league.
Laurinaitis, 25, is only due $620,000 in base salary. A three-year starter at middle linebacker, Laurinaitis hasn’t missed a game yet in his career. He led the Rams with a career-most 142 tackles last year, and also recorded three sacks, two interceptions, and seven pass breakups.
Demoff’s comments suggest no deal is imminent with either player. But the Rams are clearly going to prioritize locking up their two young, core defenders this year.