Los Angeles Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis has been released by the team, according to ESPN. The veteran isn’t done playing just yet, so he’s seeking out a new home in the NFL. While very much beloved by Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, Laurinaitis was let go simply because the team needed to clear out some salary cap space to sign younger players.
In addition to James Laurinaitis being released, the Los Angeles Rams also released Chris Long and Jared Cook. Long, the son of NFL legend Howie Long, played defensive end and was a part of a dominant unit that gave a team with a struggling offense a chance to compete every week. Cook was listed as a tight end for the Rams, but he also spent some time all over the field, which gave Los Angeles a little bit of an advantage.
To replace James Laurinaitis, the Los Angeles Rams are planning on having two players changing positions. Alec Olgetree is going to move from weak side linebacker to middle linebacker, the position that Laurinaitis manned for years. There are some concerns that Olgetree is not going to be able to guide the defense like his predecessor did. To replace Olgetree at weak side linebacker, Jeff Fisher plans on moving Mark Barron from the safety position.
Prior to the releases of James Laurinaitis, Jared Cook, and Chris Long, there were only five teams in the NFL that had more than $50 million in salary cap space to chase top-flight free agents. Those are the San Francisco 49ers, Oakland Raiders, New York Giants, Jacksonville Jaguars, and Chicago Bears. The Rams become the sixth team on that list, so it should definitely be an entertaining signing period this off-season.
Another team that might be interested in James Laurinaitis is the Dallas Cowboys. Sean Lee made a splendid transition from middle linebacker to weak side linebacker, making the Pro Bowl for the very first time in his injury-riddled career. The Cowboys aren’t sure what they’re going to do with Rolando McClain, their starting middle linebacker this past season. If McClain is retained, then he can shift over to strong side linebacker so Laurinaitis can cover the middle.
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