Chris Long explains why he's not returning to the Patriots next season

It doesn't sound like there's any bad blood between the two sides whatsoever, but Long "want (s) to get back to being the player I was before" and play a bigger role on his next team.

Longtime Rams defensive end Chris Long took a pay cut last offseason to join the Patriots for the chance to win a Super Bowl. Turning 32 later this month, Long probably doesn't have more than a couple years left.

Chris Long will not be returning to the Patriots in 2017. I made lifelong friends in a great locker room and became a champion.

After playing for a team that didn't produce so much as a winning record throughout the first eight years of his National Football League career, it was clear that Long wanted to join a team that gave him the best chance to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

"Thank you Pats Nation".

It was important to say thank you personally.

Long played in all 16 games for the Patriots in 2016, starting seven and recording 4 sacks to go with 22 total tackles. You may not remember me much, but I'll always remember y'all!

The Patriots have over $61.4 million in available salary cap space, per Spotrac, but they'll have to reserve some of that for a combination of Hightower, Alan Branch, LeGarrette Blount, Martellus Bennett and Malcolm Butler, all of whom are free agents.

But in the final eight games of the year, which coincided with the emergence of second-year defensive end Trey Flowers, Long saw his snaps trimmed to 58.8 percent (287 of 488). From there, a field goal would have given Atlanta a commanding 31-20 lead with 3:50 remaining in the game.

Long will enter free agency, as will defensive end Jabaal Sheard and defensive tackle Alan Branch.

Instead, the Falcons were moved back to a 3rd-and-33 at the New England 45-yard-line, and Matt Ryan's pass to Taylor Gabriel fell incomplete.

  • Julie Sanders