‘The Itch is Still There’ for Chris Long
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's a year-by-year proposition for Chris Long at this stage of his career but the veteran defensive end again reiterated that he would like to play in 2019.
On clean-out day at the NovaCare Complex after the divisional round playoff loss in New Orleans earlier this month 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 Friday 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 turns 34 in March and is under contract for 2019 with 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 Jim Schwartz's defensive line rotation.
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, though, is a free agent and could be elsewhere.
"At the end of the day, the itch is still there, I still love playing on Sunday." Long insisted. "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