When the Rams announced they were moving to Los Angeles, the team asked longtime linebacker James Laurinaitis if he could make some appearances in the market on behalf of the franchise. He complied, and took it as a sign that he was in the organization's plans for 2016.
Then came Friday. Laurinaitis, along with defensive end Chris Long and tight end Jared Cook, were released in moves made by a franchise in transition. For the first time in his career, Laurinaitis is unemployed -- at least for now.
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"I didn't see this one coming," Laurinaitis told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Friday night.
"(I) was like, if they're gonna call and ask me to (make appearances in L.A.), I must be all right," he said. "I thought maybe at worst, a pay cut. I still felt like I was producing."
Laurinaitis knows he can still play, even if he was limited by foot and elbow injuries in each of the past two seasons. He became the franchise's all-time leading tackler last season, quite an achievement for a player yet to turn 30.
Laurinaitis got the career-changing news Friday morning. He was working out at the Rams' facility when coach Jeff Fisher called him to his office.
"He said it was one of the toughest (cuts) he's had to do in his career -- up there with (Steve) McNair and (Eddie) George," Laurinaitis said.
We imagine there is only so much solace Laurinaitis can take from that, but perhaps this will end up a blessing. He hits free agency as a known entity in an offseason with plenty of money to be spent. Laurinaitis shouldn't be out of work long, and he'll likely be paid handsomely for his services.