The St. Louis Rams have released offensive tackle Jake Long, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. Long, who has long been one of the best offensive tackles in the league when healthy, is coming off a second torn ACL in as many seasons. He hasn't played a complete 16-game season since 2010, for the Miami Dolphins.
St. Louis still has some serious question marks along the offensive line, but with Long's injury history and a prohibitive salary cap hit of $10.5 million in 2015, this move isn't exactly surprising. Releasing Long outright saves the Rams a total of $8 million against the salary cap in 2015. If the team designates Long as a post-June 1 cut, it saves an extra $1.25 million against the cap, making the total savings $9.25 million in 2015. Either way, that's a nice chunk of change for a team that is still hamstrung by quarterback Sam Bradford's large contract. It doesn't help that Bradford is also coming off his second torn ACL.
At his peak, Long was definitely worth that kind of cash, and if he gets healthy again he should have plenty to offer another NFL team. There's also the possibility that St. Louis brings Long back at a reduced salary, given that the Rams said at the NFL Scouting Combine that they were discussing their options with the veteran tackle.
Long was the top pick in the 2008 NFL Draft and earned four consecutive Pro Bowl appearances from 2008 through 2011. When healthy, he's among the best pass protectors in the league and has never been a slouch in the run game, either. The draft class along the offensive line is solid this year, but the big-name players are at other positions, which should help Long find a team for 2015.