As first reported by ESPN’s Mike Reiss, free agent defensive end Chris Long took to Instagram on Wednesday to say thank you to Patriots fans, and to bid them a farewell:
Thank you Pats Nation. As a player you've given so much support to, I owe you an explanation as to why I'll be moving on in FA... even if it isn't a big deal. This year and this opportunity gave me a ton. I made lifelong friends in a great locker room and became a champion. I'm so thankful that Coach B (the GOAT) took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunity to play a small part in this wonderful year. 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. I'm thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I'm itching to do what I do best. It was important to say thank you personally. You may not remember me much, but I'll always remember y'all!! #driveforfive #missionaccomplished
Long earned $2,879,445 in his one season with the Patriots, which included incentives for playing 65% of New England’s defensive snaps in 2016. He’ll (hopefully) be remembered for the holding call he drew from Falcons left tackle Jake Matthews in Super Bowl 51 which helped drive Atlanta out of field goal range in the 4th quarter, leading to a punt.
Long gave no reason for his departure, but made it clear that it wasn’t a financial decision. The Patriots have only three edge defenders remaining from the 2016: Rob Ninkovich, Trey Flowers, and Geneo Grissom.
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