The Los Angeles Rams will place OLB Matt Longacre on injured reserve due to a back injury ending his 2017 season per Head Coach Sean McVay:
Matt’s a guy that...is fighting through a back injury and unfortunately, Matt’s going to be a guy that we are going to end up placing on IR and he’s going to have to have surgery on that back as well.
Thus ends Longacre’s third season in the NFL, all with the Rams. An undrafted free agent the Rams added following the 2015 NFL Draft, Longacre is scheduled to become a restricted free agent in the offseason.
Longacre really blossomed in 2017 with the dissolution of the old defensive end guard of Rams teams past. Where the old pairing of DE Robert Quinn and DE Chris Long led the line ahead of DE William Hayes and DE Eugene Sims, the last two years left just Quinn on the roster meaning that Longacre had quite the opportunity in 2017, and he took advantage of it. Logging 5.5 sacks and proving a reliable member of the OLB rotation ahead of Carlos Thompson or Ejuan Price, it was Longacre who paired with rookie Sam Ebukam as the primary options at outside linebacker.
There’s a question for the Rams as they prepare for the playoffs as to how to rotate in Longacre’s stead. McVay alluded to it in the buildup for Week 16 in the Rams’ game against the Tennessee Titans, but any temporary measures will have to be evaluated for more long-term (er, medium-term) sufficiency in the interim.
As for Longacre, it really comes down to the extent of the back injury. On Friday, McVay played down the injury as “week-to-week, day-to-day.” Clearly, that isn’t the case. If Longacre can rehabilitate his back to be ready for organized team activities in less than five months, it won’t be cause for concern. If it lingers into the offseason though (as we’ve seen with many reserve players before in the past), it could be something that affects roster decisions once free agency opens in March and into the 2018 NFL Draft process thereafter.
Nonetheless, we wish Matt a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in the fold soon!