Baltimore Ravens

Jake Long wise not to sign injury waiver to join Ravens

Jake Long

This week it appeared that free agent offensive tackle Jake Long was getting close to signing a deal with the Baltimore Ravens. Now, apparently the team’s concerns over his knee have led to those discussions falling apart.

Long passed an exit physical with the Atlanta Falcons in January. He also said he was “enthused” about the state of his knee after meeting with Dr. James Andrews for an examination – something the Ravens requested in advance of any deal.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t look like it’s going to happen because the Ravens are insisting on Long signing an injury waiver. After all of the good health news he has received, Long is insisting that he NOT have to sign an injury waiver. Thus, he remains a free agent.

Long told Adam Schefter of ESPN that his knee feels great and he looks forward to playing in 2016.

This is an interesting standoff and you can certainly see both sides of the argument. The Ravens want and need help at tackle, and Long fits the bill as a 31-year-old, four-time Pro Bowler. But he has only played in 11 games over the last two years and only four last season for the Falcons.

You can understand the team’s reticence to take a chance on Long without that injury waiver. If they really want him, though, they might have to take the chance anyway.

Because you can understand Long’s stance as well, who has very little incentive to sign such a waiver. “I’m coming into training camp with a healthy knee,” he might say, “why should I have to sign a waiver?”

And frankly, Long is wise not to sign it. Football is a dangerous sport, and the injuries come frequently and often randomly. Even though Long’s knee checks out well now, there is no telling what could happen in training camp, let alone in a game.

All it takes is one guy rolling up on the back of his leg, one accidental helmet-to-helmet collision, one unfortunate twist of the leg as his cleat catches on the turf, and Long’s season could be done in the blink of an eye. Sign that waiver and he suddenly comes away with nothing.

Refuse to sign it and Long can sit, remain healthy, and wait for another suitor to step forward. And as the nature of the sport dictates, other teams could end up with a sudden need when the injury bug unfortunately hits them.

“This is the healthiest and best I’ve felt in probably about five, six years,” Long said. “My knee’s back. I’ve just been working out, feeling good and ready for the opportunity when it comes along.”

As well all know, that opportunity will probably come along before too long. The likelihood is high that someone will lose a lineman during training camp or perhaps even during the preseason. Once that happens, Long will have more bargaining power, not to mention good reports from both the Falcons and Dr. Andrews to point to.

So while we can understand why the Ravens are holding off, it makes no sense for Long to sign that injury waiver, as some team will more than likely be coming along soon and not making the same demand.

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