Chris Long Commits to Playing in 2018
(973espn.com) - Chris Long has informed the Eagles he will be playing in 2018, according to Sirius XM's Adam Caplan.
Long is set to turn 33 on Wednesday and the issue of his return remained in doubt even after he agreed to a restructured deal in 2018 that bumped his base salary from a non-guaranteed $1M to $2.5M that is fully guaranteed and eliminated his $750,000 per game roster bonuses as well as another $750K in incentives.
The strange part came when the NFL Network's Mike Silver reported that Long still wasn't even sure he wanted to continue playing come September and labeled the "restructure" an actual "extension offer" that Long was still mulling over.
A restructured deal is not a one-sided thing so Long had to sign off on any change, a clear indication he was at least leaning toward coming back, something he himself confirmed at a charity event in St. Louis last week.
In the past Long has explained many times that he only wanted to stick around in a scheme that utilizes what he does best while also remaining a meaningful contributor.
We already know Jim Schwartz's defense fits Long's skill set very well but the arrival of Michael Bennett could mean Long is the odd man out of the team's nickel-rush package where he was so successful last season.
Long played in 48 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season and registered five sacks and four forced fumbles, tremendous production. And it was his hurry that forced the bad throw from Case Keenum in the NFC Championship Game against Minnesota that resulted in a pick-six by Patrick Robinson that stole the heart from the favored Vikings.
Long would generally play left end in obvious passing situations with Brandon Graham kicking inside next to Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett replacing Vinny Curry at right end.
With Curry now in Tampa and Bennett having arrived from Seattle, Schwartz will likely use a similar four-man rotation at defensive end but Bennett is a much better pass rusher than Curry and will need to be on the field for third downs. Add in the fact that the Eagles likely want to get the promising Barnett a little more work in his second season and Long could be the odd man out in the team's speed-rush package.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen