Long is a Reasonably Priced Free Agent Linebacker | Washington Commanders
Updated: Feb 21
By Adam Aniba
In the previous report we discussed the upside of Washington going after Buffalo Bills free agent linebacker Tremaine Edmunds, considering that Jamin Davis is the only current linebacker of note under contract.
Some fans scoffed at the idea of Edmunds market value ($11M per Spotrac.com). So in this report, we'll discuss another high ceiling free agent linebacker, that will come with a much cheaper price tag.
Titans Linebacker David Long Jr. was drafted #188 overall (6th round) in '19 out of West Virginia. The former Mountaineer was named to the All-American 2nd team and impressed scouts during agility testing during the NFL Combine. He had a good time in the forty, running it in 4.45 seconds and a 39.5" vertical leap, which put him in the 90th percentile among the linebackers at the combine.
The issue was his lean frame and overall measurables at 5'11" 227 lbs. In the end, evaluators pointed to his lack of polish with identifying reads and his struggles as a blitzer coming out of WVU. After only starting 9 games during his first two seasons, Long has carved out a role as the Titans starting inside linebacker.
Over the last two seasons, he's recorded back-to-back years with 2 interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He's also improved at rushing the passer/against the run with 3 QB hits and 7 tackles for a loss.
As Baldinger stated in the video above, Long is reminicinent on London Fletcher. Although that might be a lofty expectation for the 5th year linebacker, similar to the former Redskins linebacker, he attacks the line of scrimmage. His lack of size, didn't hold him back when facing bigger blockers.
Although the Titans would love to have Long Jr. back, they're currently $23.6M over the cap with other positional priorities. Per Spotrac.com, the linebacker's market value is $4.9M annually and many believe he could field upwards of $6M+ in the open market.
After the release of quarterback Carson Wentz, the Commanders will have over $32M in available cap for '23 with the opportunity to create another $15M+ with more cuts and restructures.
Although the draft will have a few options at MIKE linebacker for Washington, it's unlikely any Day 2-3 inside linebacker will be a starter in year one.
The Titans linebacker is young, in addition to offering tremendous upside and hasn't even hit his ceiling as a coverage linebacker. Next to third year LB Jamin Davis, Long could be the missing piece that puts Del Rio's defense in the conversation for one of the best in the league.
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