Kyle Long starts Sunday, and that’s awesome.
The Chicago Bears last made the playoffs in 2010 when they reached the NFC Championship game and faltered to the Green Bay Packers.
In 2013, the Chicago Bears spent their first round pick on Kyle Long who became a fan favorite and a face of the franchise during their struggles. Simple math tells you that throughout Long’s tenure in Chicago, he’s never played in a playoff game.
Long has been through a lot during his tenure in Chicago. He got off to an incredible start to his career, but since then has survived an ill-fated move to tackle, several debilitating injuries and lost half the season this year due to a foot injury as well.
Long’s personal issues aside, he’s also had to put up with three different coaches, two different general managers, too many offensive coordinators to count and of course, several more losses than wins.
Before this year, the Bears’ seasons have been ugly and Long has endured all of them. Sure, Sherrick McManis has been with the team longer, but Long really is the longest tenured Bear. McManis arrived one year earlier but has been almost exclusively a special teams player. Long has been on the offensive unit which spends far more time on the field and has been a vocal leader of the team.
In 2018, the Bears finally put it together and Long was finally part of a winner. Long got off to a very good start to this season and it looked like perhaps he had the injury issues behind him but sure enough a foot injury sidelined Long onto the IR and many thought his season would be over.
But Long battled to get back and was able to return for week 17. That means that Long will be on the field on Sunday when the Bears welcome the Philadelphia Eagles to town during Wild Card weekend. It will be Long’s first playoff game and it’s something that all Bears’ fans should be thrilled to see.
Long has been through a lot of lows during his franchise and the fact that he gets to experience this high is a great thing.
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Long’s future with the Bears is uncertain. The Bears certainly want to keep him around, but Long has missed 22 games over the last three season. The Bears can get out of his contract after this season with very little dead cap left, so that may be an avenue they choose to explore.
Hopefully Long is agreeable to some sort of contract restructure that makes his contract far more palatable for the Bears and one that’s more in line with Long’s on-the-field impact over the last few years.
Long is still a good player, but between his age and injuries, he’s no longer an elite player and the Bears can’t pay him as one with free agents Bryce Callahan, Adrian Amos and Bobby Massie needing new contracts (or replacement players).
If Long can restructure his deal, he could still be with this team for the next few years, but if that type of agreement can’t be reached, this could be Long’s final month with the Bears.
If that’s the case, finishing his career playing in the playoffs couldn’t be a better finish to one of the recent lone bright spots of the Bears’ franchise prior to this season.