The marriage between the Patriots and Chris Long worked beautifully for one season, but that's where it will end.
Long announced on Instagram Wednesday afternoon that he'll be hitting the free-agent market at the start of the new league year on Mar. 9.
Long signed a one-year deal with the Patriots last offseason after enduring two injury-riddled seasons at the end of his tenure with the St. Louis Rams. With the Patriots he was active for all 19 games last season, including playoffs, and played in 60 percent of the team's defensive snaps. He also played more snaps on the defensive line than any other Patriot aside from Alan Branch.
While he was used extensively early in the season, particularly with Rob Ninkovich suspended for the first four games of the year, Long eventually became more of a sub-rush specialist. He made one of the key plays in the Super Bowl -- drawing a fourth-quarter hold that knocked the Falcons out of field-goal range -- but he played just 15 snaps in the game.
He indicated in his social-media announcement that he'll pursue an opportunity that will allow him to get back to the kind of role he had with the Rams when healthy, when he was more of a three-down player.
"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"
The Patriots could be without two of their rotational defensive ends next season as Jabaal Sheard is also set to become an unrestricted free agent.