Will We Ever See “Peak” Kyle Long Again?


Will the Bears ever see the best Kyle Long can be?

When Ryan Pace took over as general manager of the Chicago Bears, he did not like the roster in front of him. There were underperforming rookies, aging veterans, and just about every other player was a question mark. But there was one that stood off the page. There was one guy that Ryan Pace knew he wanted on his team- Kyle Long.

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There have been other Phil Emery selections that have proven themselves and received contracts and others that still might, but Pace liked Long from the start, his rookie option was picked up before the Bears eventually extended him through the 2021 season.

But we haven’t seen that Kyle Long that Ryan Pace loved in some time. Long was in serious pain all season in 2017. He missed the first couple games of the year, and has now found himself back on IR for the remainder of the season. While Long was still good when he played, his injuries definitely hampered him. Rewinding back to 2016 you’ll find a similar story. Long has only started 17 games over the last two seasons as injuries have become a major factor when evaluating him.

Even in 2015 when Long was healthy the Bears moved him out to right tackle. Long did a solid job from the position but wasn’t the dominant force that he became his first two seasons in the league at guard.

Long had a stellar rookie season that earned him a Pro Bowl spot and improved on that in year two, becoming second team All-Pro and returning to the Pro Bowl. In 2015, Long returned to the Pro Bowl, but that was an alternate and more based on reputation.

That means we haven’t seen the Kyle Long we all fell in love with since 2014. While 2015 is on the team for changing his position and not on Kyle, it doesn’t change that Long is now 29-years old. He will turn 30 during the season in 2018, with injuries that have mounted over the last two seasons, you have to wonder if he will ever be able to put the injury bug behind him.

This article is only speculation, the Bears shut down Long for the rest of this season because they feel the extra time will help him be 100% by 2018. Long could come back next year, stay healthy and regain his peak form and the last two seasons will all be forgotten. But the first time Long’s name shows up on the injury report as “questionable,” fans will have every right to speculate if Long will have another injury-riddled season.

If Long struggles with injuries again, he’s going to enter the 2019 season on the wrong side of 30 and that could mean trouble or his future. The Bears have an out in Long’s contract in 2019 and the front office may not want to pay an offensive lineman $10 million per year if he’s only going to play half the games.

This is an important offseason for Long. He needs to get healthy, put these last two seasons behind him, and give the Bears 15-16 games next year of the 2014 version of Kyle Long. It’s not that Long has been bad, but he hasn’t been the guy the Bears felt worthy of a lucrative extension. Nobody wants to see him in another uniform, so hopefully Long will give the Bears what they paid for in 2018.