What do the Rams have in Hunter Long?
We knew it was coming. NFL Rumors named LA Rams defensive back Jalen Ramsey as being placed on the trading block. And the Rams' rumors did not stop there, as teams rushed to inquire and even engage the LA Rams in serious negotiations. The hope of Rams fans, who were already unhappy with the decision, was that Jalen Ramsey would get the LA Rams a first-round draft pick, or at worst multiple Day 2 picks. Alas, Ramsey has been dealt to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for a 2023 third-round pick (no. 77) and TE Hunter Long. Now, we have to unpack the package received and try to make sense of it all.
By all accounts, the Rams got the short end of the trade today. They did not end up with a first or second-round pick and got an inexperienced player in return. A Ramsey trade was looming for a high draft pick expected in return. This is not what Rams fans wanted for one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL. Nonetheless, Hunter Long is a part of the tight end room. What does he bring to the squad?
Youth and Inexperience
Long, 24 years of age, has yet to receive any meaningful playing time in the NFL. A third-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft out of Boston College, Hunter had a solid three-year career as an Eagle. Built at 6-foot-5, 254 pounds, Long has soft hands and takes up space in the trenches. In his sophomore year at Boston College, he was used as a vertical threat and averaged 18.2 yards per reception, according to sports-reference.com. He doesn't possess outstanding speed but can clearly be used as a downfield threat.
Hunter Long has one career reception for eight yards. That is how inexperienced he is. The Rams are getting a raw player that could develop into a starting-caliber tight end. Does this equate to the level of return expected for All-Pro DB Jalen Ramsey? No. Not even close. But Long will get his chance at significant playing time and development. In Miami, he was deep in the depth chart behind tight ends Mike Gesicki and Durham Smythe. Long has the potential to be a solid tight end in the NFL but hasn't been given a chance to prove it.
Today's trade was LA Rams GM Les Snead's latest attempt at freeing up cap space for the Rams to have financial freedom moving forward. Per Spotrac.com, the LA Rams' release of Bobby Wagner, designated as a Post-June 1 release, will put the Rams into the positive. In fact, with Wagner's freeing up an estimated $8 million for the Rams in 2023, the team stands to start the 2023 NFL season with a salary cap surplus of approximately $6.3 million.
Snead has gone from devaluing picks to deconstructing a roster. Anticipate more moves to increase the financial ability of the Rams through trades and roster cuts. WR Allen Robinson III and TE Tyler Higbee have been mentioned as potential pieces to be moved. Following the acquisition of Hunter Long, it seems very likely that Higbee's days may be numbered on the Rams roster as well.
Stay tuned. The LA Rams have no shortage of surprising developments this year. And we will try to keep you updated on each event.