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Raiders Quietly Sign Long, 28, to 7-Year Extension

Times Staff Writer

Without fanfare or even an announcement, the Raiders have signed defensive end Howie Long to a 7-year extension, in essence giving him a lifetime contract, sources said Thursday.

The Raiders wouldn’t comment. “We never discuss contracts,” said executive assistant Al LoCasale.

Long, 28, could have become a free agent, such as there is in the National Football League, after the expiration of his contract this season.

Instead, he opted to make another longer-term deal early. He is already earning a base salary of $700,000 this season, and, under his new contract, probably will become the top earner among the game’s defensive linemen.

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Long, an 8-year pro, has been the premier Raider lineman since he joined the team as an unheralded No. 2 pick from Villanova in 1981. He has been in the Pro Bowl for the last 5 seasons, although he went as an alternate in 1988. He is only the second Raider defensive lineman to play in a Pro Bowl.

He had a career-high 13 sacks in 1983. In 1984, he was named defensive lineman of the year by the NFL Alumni Assn. after getting 11 sacks and deflecting 9 passes.

Long’s sack totals have declined in recent seasons as teams have double-teamed him more. But until last season, the Raiders still finished 1-2-3 in the league in sacks in every season since they moved here in 1982.

Long got off to a good start this season. He had a sack in the opening game against the San Diego Chargers. In the second game, at Houston, he had 2 more, including 1 on which he stripped quarterback Cody Carlson of the ball at the Oiler 11.

In that same game, Long also intercepted a pass and returned it 73 yards.

He injured a calf early in the Oct. 9 loss to the Dolphins, however, and has missed the last 2 games. He remains doubtful this week.

Once outspoken and outrageous, Long has kept a lower profile in recent years, but he also has become one of football’s hottest commercial properties. He now does national ads for Campbell soup and Nike and has been offered movie scripts.


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