Rams cut Laurinaitis, Long, Cook in cap purge

EARTH CITY, Mo. — The Rams are not only moving to Los Angeles, they’re also moving on from three veteran mainstays in the process.

The team announced the release of defensive end Chris Long, middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and tight end Jared Cook on Friday afternoon.

In releasing the trio, the Rams will save about $ 24 million in salary-cap space. That could set them up to re-sign some of their own key free agents, like cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson, and safeties such as Rodney McLeod and Mark Barron.

“This is the time of year when all NFL teams are faced with difficult decisions regarding their veteran players,” Rams 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 took to Instagram to offer an honest assessment of his performance the past two years and to thank fans for rooting for him in his time with the team.

Before their release, Long and Laurinaitis were the team’s two longest-tenured players. Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, was the second overall pick in the 2008 NFL draft and started 95 games, with 54.5 sacks, in his time with the team.

Laurinaitis came to the Rams as a second-round pick in 2009 and became the franchise’s all-time leading tackler in 2015.

Cook signed with the Rams as an undrafted free agent in 2013. He posted 142 receptions for 1,786 yards and eight touchdowns in three seasons with the team.

“Jared made an immediate impact when he joined the team in 2013. 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,” Fisher said in the statement. “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.”

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