Chris Long Still Mulling Over His Future
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Not so fast when it comes to the future of Chris Long.
There are certain things in the NFL world that can at least amplify clarity and a restructured contract is one of them for good reason. After all, when a deal is re-worked, it's a two-way street and an indication that both parties plan to continue working together for the upcoming season.
News broke that the Eagles restructured two deals on Friday with linebacker Nigel Bradham and defensive end Chris Long.
In the case of Bradham, who is projected to be Jim Schwartz's only three-down linebacker, the maneuvering was about helping Philadelphia create space under the cap for other potential transactions in the coming days and weeks.
For Long, a player who will turn 34 later this month, it's a year-by-year proposition at this stage and the change in his deal was more of an indication that the Eagles do want the veteran back for 2019 but from Long's side, it remains a wait-and-see approach.
On clean-out day at the NovaCare Complex after the divisional round playoff loss in New Orleans earlier this year Long told reporters that there was still gas left in the tank and felt he had an effective season but that fit and his role is the most important thing. Speaking with WIP Radio in Philadelphia the veteran pass rusher amplified that.
"I'd like to play football in 2019," Long told the radio station. "I thought I had a strong year and felt good physically. Listen, I know I'm an older guy. But, you know, I don't think I've missed a practice over the last two years. I feel like I've been durable and ready when called upon."
Long remains under contract for 2019 and had a $2 million roster bonus due on March 17 after an 18-game season [including the two playoff encounters] in which he recorded 6 1/2 sacks and two forced fumbles as a key part of Schwartz's defensive line rotation, a deadline that likely forced the tweak as Long continues to eye the landscape.
It's not about the money for Long at this stage and he contemplated retirement last season after the Eagles acquired Michael Bennett, figuring there may not be enough work to go around with Brandon Graham and Derek Barnett also in the rotation.
Barnett's shoulder injury ultimately ramped up Long's workload in the second half of the season but Barnett will be back, likely as a starter in September. Graham, meanwhile, was re-signed and the Eagles traded Bennett but brought in an interior player in Malik Jackson whose best attribute is rushing the passer. More so, Howie Roseman called the 2019 draft class on the defensive line historic and Philadelphia may bring in more help there.
As for Long nothing has really changed, if the role is there he will take it.
"At the end of the day, the itch is still there, I still love playing on Sunday." Long insisted back in January. "But as far as what happens, I'm literally just kind of sitting back and seeing what the Eagles do and who they bring in or don't bring in and how deep that room gets. But I'd still love to play. But at the end of the day at 33, I could go either way."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen