Chris Long is expected to visit the pass rush hungry Dallas Cowboys next week, a source confirmed Friday.
Long, who turns 31 in March, is coming off a season in which he recorded only three sacks in 12 games for the Rams, and had only one sack in six games for the Rams in 2014. But he has a strong track record before that in his eight-year career, all with the Rams.
The 2008 second overall pick out of Virginia recorded 41 1/2 sacks from 2010-13, starting all 64 games in that stretch for the Rams. Long has been linked to several teams so far in free agency, visiting Washington and Atlanta. New England also is reportedly expressing interest.
But improving the pass rush ranks as arguably the top priority for the Cowboys this offseason, and they certainly have interest in adding a proven player such as Long. Dallas tied for 25th in the league with 31 combined sacks a year ago, and had only 28 in 2014.
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The Cowboys are not expected to re-sign controversial defensive end Greg Hardy, who created more headaches than sacks in his first season. Veteran Jeremy Mincey is coming off a season in which he had no sacks and is now on the free agent market, as is Jack Crawford (who had four sacks for Dallas last season).
The Cowboys also know they’ll be without Randy Gregory for the first four games next season after the NFL suspended him for violating the league’s substance abuse policy.
The Cowboys have addressed the defensive line early in free agency, signing defensive tackle Cedric Thornton to a four-year deal on Thursday.