Another day, another bit of information from fan-favorite Chris Long about whether or not he plans to retire this offseason or return to the Eagles.
He mentioned just days ago that the city and fans were making the decision difficult, and while stressing his motivations were not money related — which, who would have really thought that from a guy who has given up more than a season’s worth of game checks and won Walter Payton Man of the Year — he also made it clear that the biggest factor would be his role within the defense.
The Eagles have made quite a few moves so far this offseason, re-signing Brandon Graham, trading Michael Bennett and adding Malik Jackson, bringing back Vinny Curry and most-recently, re-signing Timmy Jernigan to a one-year deal.
Long joined Jeff McLane and Zach Berman on the Birds Eye View podcast to go into a little more detail about his decision and his love for the city of Philadelphia.
They dove right into the main interest for fans, and he said that he’s really tried to stay away from the topic as much as possible this offseason because it’s a really tough decision.
“My thing has always been, yeah I mean, for the right role I’ll keep playing football. I feel good and I feel like I played my strongest football at the end of the year. Had some things going on in the first half of the year, got healthy and kind of simultaneously with everything going on at DB got more snaps.
My role the past couple years in Philly has been a third-down guy, in fact that’s whats made it to stomach being a “back-up” — whatever those words mean to you or anybody else.”
He went on to say that, of course, he thinks he could go somewhere and be a starter, but the third-down action is a big part of the defense and he was still able to contribute.
“I was told, in so many words, ‘we want you back, but’ — and I appreciate them being upfront — ‘but you’re not quite in the cards to have this main role’. You know, so my role was probably going to be diminished, but that’s not out a lack of them wanting me back. I think they want me back as a depth guy.
But, at 34, with my experience and what I’ve done, and still believing in myself and playing at a high level, I’m not gonna — it’s too hard on my body, on my family, on everybody else to go through it for a role that’s far from perfect.”
Long continued and noted that one of his big concerns was the perception that he’s keeping the team hostage while he makes his decision. Having someone say that the Eagles could have gotten Frank Clark if it weren’t for Long was the reason he decided to speak out about the matter.
“I told them this maybe a month ago. I said, ‘Hey listen, just plan like I won’t be back. Things can change, but I don’t want to hold y’all up in free agency or in the draft’.”
He said that he’s wishing the team a lot of luck in the NFL Draft this weekend, and ultimately really appreciates Howie Roseman, Doug Pederson and the team being upfront and honest about the whole situation.
Long was then asked what role would it take for him to come back — and whether it was that third-down role he had the past two seasons — and the DE was honest and said, “It really ain’t happening”.
He also said that stranger things have happened, but he doesn’t wish for things to change, because for things to change that means someone would need to get hurt.
“I’ve loved every minute of being in Philly, and literally if it were any other city or any other franchise, I wouldn’t be taking a hard look at it. But, I’ve taken a hard look at it, and it’s hard to imagine coming back as just a depth guy who’s not really going to rush the passer, because that’s what I still do at a relatively high level.”
Long emphasized he’s just too old to be in a situation that isn’t perfect for both sides, and he holds no ill will and certainly isn’t holding the organization hostage.
He said he still wants to play, but he wants a lot of things, and that doesn’t mean they’re all going to happen.
Long did leave the door open a little bit, saying that he’d never experienced a loss quite as bitter as in the playoffs last year. He knows this is an Eagles team that will be in the hunt for the next couple of years, and after the Saints loss, he was watching the Super Bowl wishing he was playing in that game.