CHRIS LONG signed with the New England Patriots last season because he was sick and tired of losing.
At least 20 other NFL teams had a defensive scheme better-suited to Long's skill set than the Patriots'. But after spending the first eight years of his career stuck in a playoff-less quagmire in St. Louis, the 32-year-old defensive end wanted a shot at a Super Bowl ring before his career was over.
While he'd love to add a second ring with the Eagles this year, that wasn't his primary motivation for signing a two-year deal with the team earlier this week.
"For me, the No. 1 thing going into free agency was finding a good football fit," Long said Friday during a meet-and-greet with reporters at the NovaCare Complex. "Schematically, I think (the Eagles' defensive scheme) works really well for my skill set and what I've done in my career.
"I had a great opportunity to go to New England and win a championship. But at the end of the day, I wanted to get back to playing football the way I played it for a long time.
"That's something that gave me great joy. Taking the field every Sunday and playing to the best of my abilities in a situation schematically that fit me and allowed me to be the best me I could be."
The 6-3, 270-pound Long is a natural 4-3 end, which is what he played with the Rams and what he'll likely play with the Eagles.
The Patriots play multiple 3-4 and 4-3 fronts and often lined him up inside at the three-technique (on the outside shoulder of the guard).
"I played probably half my snaps in the three-technique," Long said. "If you watch what we did in St. Louis, it was more like what they do here. Schematically, there's a big difference."
Long played 68 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps last season. Had four sacks. But his snaps decreased in the second half of the season with the emergence of second-year player Trey Flowers.
Long played only 34.6 percent of the Patriots' defensive snaps in the postseason. He was on the field for only 15 snaps in the Patriots' 34-28 overtime win over the Falcons in Super Bowl LI.
The Patriots were interested in re-signing Long. But shortly after the Super Bowl, he informed them he was going to pursue other opportunities.
"There wasn't any bad blood," he said. "It was more about finding a positive. The positive for me, the thing I enjoy doing the most, is playing in a situation that allows me to be proud of what I put on the field every Sunday.
"I was able to be pretty straight up with coaches, who I admired a lot, and tell them that I probably was going to look to go elsewhere, purely from a football standpoint. I appreciate everything they gave me. I've got a ring, which I'm going to get fitted for soon."
The best fit for Long ended up being the Eagles, for a number of reasons. The most significant, of course, was defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and his wide-nine scheme, similar to the scheme he played in with the Rams.
"We played a lot of nine (technique), a lot of seven, a lot of five," Long said. "I've been all over the place, up and down the line. I'm open to pretty much anything. I trust the coaches to put me in the best position to help the team.
Another plus to signing with the Eagles was the fact that Long's wife, Megan, is from South Jersey. Her parents live in Moorestown.
"This is a win-win," Long said. "When we were in college (at Virginia), I tracked down a Donovan McNabb jersey and got it signed and gave it to my wife for a Christmas present. Playing for the Eagles now, everything's come full-circle."
Long, the second overall pick in the 2008 draft, has 581/2 career sacks in 130 games. He notched 411/2 of them during a four-year period from 2010 through 2013. But injuries caught up with him in 2014 and '15. He has only eight sacks the last three years.
"I feel I have a lot left, I really do," said Long, who turned 32 earlier this week. "There was a time when I was injured and playing really bad and got cut (by the Rams), rightfully so.
"I wasn't sure then what my future in football was. But I was lucky. Coach (Bill) Belichick took a chance on me. I found out I still had a lot left in the tank. I didn't miss a practice, didn't miss a game last year. That was something I was very proud of. I played hard and at a high level.
"Being 32, I wanted to be in the right place. And this is the right place for me."
Long was one of two "value" free agents the Eagles signed this week. The other was cornerback Patrick Robinson, who signed a one-year deal with the team. The Eagles need help at both defensive end and cornerback.
The Eagles released veteran defensive end Connor Barwin a few weeks ago. Another 2016 defensive-line starter, tackle Bennie Logan, signed with Kansas City.
Barwin, who ended up signing with the Rams, and Long are friends. Before Barwin signed with the Rams, he called Long to ask him about the organization.
"I said, 'Well, I'll give you some information if you trade me some information (about the Eagles),' " Long said. "Because being a free agent, you're flying blind a lot of the time.
"Connor helped me a lot. He had nothing but good things to say about the city, the organization, the coaches, the players."
The Eagles' pass rush was inconsistent last season. They finished with a middle-of-the-pack 37 sacks. Brandon Graham has developed into a solid starter at left end, but the jury still is out on Barwin's projected replacement, Vinny Curry.
The Eagles gave him a five-year, $46.2 million contract last year, but he had only 21/2 sacks in his first year in Schwartz's defense The Eagles likely will add an edge-rusher in the draft, but Long provides proven veteran depth.
"I'm just happy to have an opportunity to compete for playing time," Long said. "Like I said earlier, the No. 1 thing when I started free agency was I wanted to find a good football fit.
"It wasn't about the money for me. I've been very lucky to have made a good amount of money playing football. It wasn't about anything other than getting back to the player I was, or as close as I can be to that. That's something I'm very driven to do. I'm very driven to compete and try to help this team win."
@Pdomo Blog: philly.com/Eaglesblog