Kyle Long is back in the NFL, making a return to the league after sitting out the last year. Brother (and former NFL defensive end) Chris Long and Macon Gunter of the "Green Light Podcast" first reported the news of Long's return with Gunter saying Long is "healthy, happy, nasty, and shredded."
Long admitted last June he didn't actually retire, but was fired from the Chicago Bears in a social media post. Long announced his decision to "step away" from the game in January, which was a surprise to Bears fans and the Chicago area as the veteran right guard decided to walk away with a year left on his deal. He agreed to take a pay cut in 2019 in a revised deal, but the Bears made clear their intentions to move on from him after putting him on injured reserve in Week 5 of that season. After playing every snap in Week 4 of the 2019 season, Long was done for the season with a hip injury -- and his career in Chicago.
Don't count on Long returning to the Bears with this return. Long said if he were to return to the franchise, "it would need to be under a new staff." The Bears still have Ryan Pace as the general manager and Matt Nagy as head coach.
"I have supported this staff and the roster in the media since being released," Long wrote. "Believe in the team and the coaches. But that doesn't mean I would want to play for them."
A 2013 first-round pick, Long was one of the best guards in the NFL during his seven seasons with the Bears. A three-time Pro Bowler from 2013 to 2015 (making the Pro Bowl at guard and tackle), injuries affected Long from recapturing the dominance early in his career.
Long played in just 29 games from 2016 to 2019, failing to play half a season in three of those years. The injuries Long suffered throughout those four seasons included a torn labrum and strained triceps, as well as foot, ankle and shoulder pain recurring from the labrum injury suffered in 2016.
The 32-year-old should have a market in free agency after taking a year off. Taking a shot on Long in a "low-risk, high-reward" situation would be a wise move for a Super Bowl contending team or a roster looking for offensive line depth.