I’ve made my thoughts on Kyle Long very clear in some of my recent T Formation Conversation podcasts, but in case you missed any of those, here’s what I think about the Chicago Bears’ 30-year old offensive guard. Even though he carries an $8.5 million cap hit in 2019, I can’t see the Bears moving on from him. While he did suffer through a third straight injury plagued season, this is the first offseason he’s not going to be rehabbing from an injury since 2015.
Kyle Long battled back from a mid-season foot injury to play the final game of the regular season and their wild card game, and I think it’s fair to say he was a bit rusty. But he’s a leader on that offensive line and in the locker room, and if I was making the call, I’m keeping him on my team.
Cutting him would be a $3 million dead cap hit, but waiting til June 1st would lower the dead money to $1.5 million, but if you do let him go, what are the alternatives? Hope a young player steps up? Draft a mid or late round rookie to compete at that spot? Bring back Eric Kush or Bryan Witzmann to start at right guard?
I’ll pass on all those options and start Long on my o-line at right guard. A backup plan is needed, so get one of those veterans to return, and find some youth to go in the pipeline, but Kyle Long is a football player.
For the record, I think a restructure to get his 2019 cap hit to come down would be ideal, but contract restructuring doesn’t happen very often.
I threw this question out to a few of my colleagues at WCG to get their take and here’s what they had to say.
Jacob Infante - The Bears should aim to keep Kyle Long, but not at his current price. He is slated to have an $8.5 million cap hit in 2019, a number that is not acceptable given his 22 missed games in the last three years. While the Bears would free up a lot of cap space - which they currently don’t have a lot of - by cutting Long, doing so would open up a hole on their offensive line that they simply don’t have the resources to fix this offseason.
With no draft picks in the first two rounds, little cap space and a weak class for guards in both free agency and the draft, the odds that the Bears would find a solid replacement this year would be slim. Ultimately, I believe they should keep Long around for at least another season, but they should definitely make it a priority to restructure his contract this offseason.
Erik Christopher Duerrwaechter - In my personal opinion, I feel the Chicago Bears should keep Kyle Long as a mainstay on their offensive line. He’s the head hog of that group, he’s an incredible leader in the locker room, and he’s still a tough monster to anchor the line with when he’s healthy. He’s also not scheduled for any surgeries this offseason. Yes, cutting him would save the Bears a few million. Yet cutting him also opens a big hole at RG in a projected market that’s all but dry in terms of depth. I believe he’s a candidate for a restructuring/renegotiation of his contract. Then again they might just proceed as normal and aim for continuity in the trenches.
WhiskeyRanger - Short answer, yes. Long answer, it’s probably going to take him renegotiating or restructuring his contract. $8-9 million a year is a bit steep for a guard who only averages 8 or 9 games a year, and will be on the wrong side of 30 next season. If they can get his contract to be a bit more cap friendly, then it’s a no brainer. He’s a mauler when healthy, and both a leader in the locker room, and an emotional leader on the field. Plus, the Bears do seem to have decent depth behind him (after a rough start Witzmann was actually pretty solid), which can fill in well in the likely event he misses more games. So, I’d like to see him stay, and hope for healthier days myself.
Ken Mitchell - The Bears should, 100 percent, keep Kyle Long. Period. He will have the entire offseason surgery-free to build himself up, and I expect him to come into camp roaring.
If they can reduce his cap hit? Fine, no problem, but replacing him leaves a huge hole in our line that I honestly don’t think we will find anybody better to fill.
Long struggled in the playoff game, but as somebody who’s coming off of a broken bone in my leg, I can tell you there’s no way he was at 100 percent or anywhere near that in his two games back. No chance at all.
I bring Kyle back, absolutely, at full price or a discount. We aren’t that short of cap space, we just aren’t.
Robert Schmitz - The Bears should keep Kyle Long. He’s a talented leader of the line and provided quality play all throughout the year. You need guys like Kyle that can rally your team in both good times and bad if you want to make a deep run in the playoffs. Maintaining line continuity is also key, so Bobby Massie’s potential departure makes it all the more important to keep Long around.
That said, the Bears should also restructure Long’s contract. He’s got fairly large base salaries for 2019-2021 that can be reduced and turned into signing bonuses to lighten his cap hit at the cost of adding dead money to each year. Given he’s finally entering an offseason without needing a surgery, I think now is the right time to bet on Long’s next few years, increase the Bears available cap space, and push in all their chips for a 2019/2020 championship.
Sam Householder - Definitely keep Kyle Long. He showed a lot of toughness returning for the postseason after an injury and he’s sacrificed his body heavily playing through injuries. Granted, I know that means little to teams when it comes time to manage the cap but Long was the face of the team during the dark times, so I think it stands to reason that, even with a restructuring that he deserves to come back for some good times. He’s still playing at a starting level, even if it’s not typically for 16 games.
We’re all unanimous in wanting the Bears to keep Kyle Long, but what about you guys?
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Should the Bears release Kyle Long?
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