Chris Long is Uncertain About His Future
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Chris Long is under contract for the 2018 season but the veteran defensive end is due a $500,000 roster bonus on March 18 for an organization that has both significant salary-cap issues and impressive depth at his particular position.
By releasing the 32-year-old Long the Eagles could gain nearly $2 million in cap space.
At this stage of his career, the former No. 2 overall pick has already made a mint and proven he's not about the money, donating his entire 2017 base salary to various charitable causes.
Long's also savvy and likely realizes that as effective as he was as a situational pass rusher during the team's first Super Bowl season, the Eagles' have some difficult personnel decisions to make and his name is being bandied about at the NovaCare Complex in advance of that March 18 deadline.
With that in mind Long isn't even 100 percent that he wants to return for another season.
"I don't know yet," Long told SBNation's Charlotte Wilder when asked if he would be back in Philadelphia. "I'm working something out right now. At 32, you have limited time left to play the game you love, so the role has to be exactly right for me. I can still play at a high level, and I'm hungry to play, but every player my age has to weigh how they want to go out."
Long, of course, won a Super Bowl with the New England Patriots after the 2016 season but left for Philadelphia, which featured a scheme better suited for his skills.
It's hard to imagine history repeating itself because Long is not going to find a better defense for him. The bigger issue this time is will the playing time be there now that the Eagles have traded for three-time Pro Bowl end Michael Bennett.
And that likely hinges on the bigger plan of how Howie Roseman plans to deal with a host of players: Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Derek Barnett and Long. The only one in that group assured of being back in 2018 because of the salary-cap restraints is Barnett, the emerging second-year pass-rushing star.
"The 25-year-old me would tell the 32-year-old me to take the two rings and go start the next chapter in life," Long admitted.
Despite the arrival of Bennett complicating things for Long, he rubber-stamped the Eagles' decision to make the move.
"They asked me about Mike before the trade, because I know Mike," Long explained. "And I gave him a glowing recommendation because I really do think Mike is an awesome dude and a great player. He's been as good an inside/out rusher as I've seen in my time in the league, one of my favorite guys to watch."
Ironically Long's endorsement might swing things toward the 25-year-old Long's advice: retirement.
"It's never simple when you still have gas left in the tank," Long said. "We'll have to see what shakes out."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen