Three surprising names won't make the trip to Los Angeles.
The Rams announced on Friday that they have released defensive end Chris Long, linebacker James Laurinaitis and tight Jared Cook. The moves could have been made for salary cap purposes, since cutting ties with the three players will save the team a little more than $23 million for 2016.
That's about $25 million in cash off the books in 2016 for the Rams in one afternoon.— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 19, 2016
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"This is the time of year when all NFL teams are faced with difficult decisions regarding their veteran players," Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said in a statement.
"Chris and James are the epitome of what it means to be a pro in this league and it's been an honor to coach them both. They've been the pillars of our defense for many years and not enough can be said of their love for the game and for their teammates. Beyond the field, they took pride in mentoring the younger players and doing their part to make a real difference in the St. Louis community. We will always be grateful for James and Chris' unselfish commitment to the Rams and wish them the best moving forward.
Long -- who was the No. 2 overall pick of the 2008 NFL Draft -- just wrapped his eighth season with the Rams. He made 95 starts during that span and racked up 54.5 sacks. He had double-digit sack totals in 2011 and 2012. However, he has struggled with injuries over the past two seasons and his production dropped.
Long saluted Rams fans everywhere via Instagram on Friday.
Just heard that I'm about to be unemployed. I just want to personally and humbly thank the city of St. Louis again for all your support over 8 years. I love y'all so much for sticking with me through the ups and downs. I also want to thank our LA fans, and although I may never join you in SoCal, just know that I'll always appreciate you. Bottom line is- this is a production business. No excuses, the last two years have been shit. It's been painful to experience because I care deeply about my performance and my responsibility to my teammates. Before the last two years I'm very proud of what I was able to accomplish in St. Louis. I'm not surprised, but it doesn't make it any easier to leave your family. I look forward to the next chapter. Hungry and a lot to prove all over again. First I'm gonna have a beer. Wishing it shook out differently but eternally grateful, C Long
A photo posted by Chris Long (@joelworld) on
Laurinaitis also enjoyed a run of success in St. Louis after being selected in the second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. He has had at least 100 tackles in each of his seven seasons in the NFL.
Jared Cook arrived with the Rams as a free agent in 2013. He had at least 50 catches in 2013 and 2014. His 671 yards in 2013 set a Rams single-season record for receiving yards by a tight end. His 141 receiving yards in his regular-season debut with the team in 2013 set the Rams' single-game record for yards by a tight end.
His playing time decreased in 2015 and he caught just 39 passes without a touchdown.
"Jared made an immediate impact when he joined the team in 2013," Fisher said in the statement. "It's been a pleasure watching him grow from the time I drafted him in Tennessee to seeing him set franchise records in St. Louis. Like Chris and James, he's been a mainstay in the community and his contributions are commendable. We hope for the best for Jared and his family as he embarks on the next steps of his career."