Jake Long finally chose his team late Sunday night. The former No. 1 overall draft pick is the newest St. Louis Ram, even if he didn't get the contract he was hoping for in free agency.
Long's delayed decision created a logjam at offensive tackle in the free-agent market. Long is represented by CAA, which also represents top available right tackles Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer. The idea was for Long to set the market, with Vollmer and Smith signing next. Surely CAA isn't thrilled with how things have shaken out.
Long's three-day visit to St. Louis and the ensuing indecision allowed other offensive tackles like Sam Baker, Jermon Bushrod and Gosder Cherilus to sign for big money elsewhere. In the end, Long didn't appear to get much better money than the "second tier" options (Long's contract will pay him $34 million over four years, NFL.com's Albert Breer reported.)
It's fair to wonder if Vollmer and Smith's best interests are served by having the same agents as Long. In theory, they are all competing for the same jobs. But CAA surely wasn't selling Vollmer or Smith as an alternative to Long in St. Louis. (If Long didn't sign with the Rams, St. Louis could have signed Vollmer or Smith to play right tackle with Rodger Saffold staying on the left side.)
A lot of players and veteran agents miscalculated the market. Long hoped to get more than $10 million per season, which would have "set the market" for Vollmer instead. Instead, he wound up with $8 million per season. The Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts all have spent their money at the position. So where does that leave Vollmer and Smith? (They are our top two free-agent players available.).
The Cincinati Bengals remain hopeful about bringing Smith back. Vollmer could be an option to return to the New England Patriots at a discounted, Aqib Talib-like price. The Miami Dolphins also could be an option. They lost on Long, and have an opening at right tackle that Vollmer (or Smith) could fill. Vollmer's market has otherwise been surprisingly quiet.
With Long out of the way, perhaps CAA also will get its well-stocked defensive end group in place. Elvis Dumervil, Dwight Freeney and Osi Umenyiora all are represented by the mega agency. Dumervil could return to the Broncos, but has some interest from the Ravens. Freeney visited with the Patriots. Umenyiora has been rumored as a potential target for Atlanta to replace John Abraham.
The same questions regarding conflicts of interest are at play with the defensive ends, too. And the big money has dried up. The longer players have waited to sign in this market, the harder it is to find good long-term deals.