Chris Long won't return to Pats, will enter free agency

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  • By Jeremy Bergman NFL.com
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Chris Long is one-and-done in Foxborough on his own volition.

The Patriots defensive end announced on Instagram that he will not seek to re-sign with the team after playing out his one-year deal in 2016.

"This has zero to do with money, etc. It's the right move in my heart because I want to get back to being the player I was before," Long said in the post. "I'm thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I'm itching to do what I do best."


New England took a flier on Long in the offseason after the defensive end limped through two injury-riddled seasons in St, Louis in 2014 and 2015. Once a highly productive member of the Rams, Long produced just four sacks over that span.

Never having made the postseason, Long signed a one-year pact for less money with the Patriots with the intent of at least playing in the playoffs. One year later, he's leaving with a Super Bowl ring.

The 31-year-old's football future isn't quite clear. He likely feels rejuvanated and back to his old self after tallying four sacks and 35 combined tackles for a Super Bowl champion. On the other hand, Long is the Mr. Irrelevant of Around the NFL's Top 101 Free Agents list (as of Wednesday).

It'll be interesting to see whether, with his next organization, Long can replicate that success, and if teams are willing to reward his "Patriots year" with a reasonable contract.

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