“This is the time of year when all NFL teams are faced with difficult decisions regarding their veteran players,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said on Friday.
“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.”
Fisher also praised Laurinaitis and Long, a son of Hall of Fame defensive end Howie Long, for their off-field contributions.
“They took pride in mentoring the younger players and doing their part to make a real difference in the St. Louis community,” Fisher said. “We will always be grateful for James and Chris’ unselfish commitment to the Rams.”
Laurinaitis was drafted in the second round of the 2009 NFL draft out of Ohio State. He led the team in tackles in each of his first four seasons He passed Hall of Famer and 14-time Pro Bowler Merlin Olsen in 2015 to become the leading tackler in franchise history.
Long was the second choice overall in the 2008 draft out of Virginia and led the Rams in sacks in 2011 and 2012.
Long used his Instagram account to “personally and humbly thank the city of St. Louis again for all your support over eight years.”
“I love y’all so much for sticking with me through the ups and downs,” Long wrote.
Long also thanked the fans in Los Angeles, “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” wrote Long, who then used a vulgarity for solid bodily waste.
“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.”
Cook joined the Rams as a free agent during the 2013 offseason after spending the previous four seasons with Tennessee. In his first season with the Rams, he set franchise records for most receiving yards by a tight end both in a single season (671) and in a single game, 141 in a Sept. 8, 2013 game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Cook made 142 receptions for 1,786 yards and eight touchdowns with the Rams.
“Jared made an immediate impact when he joined the team in 2013,” Fisher said. “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.”
— City News Service