Kyle Long

Bears’ Kyle Long Restructures Contract

Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long has agreed to restructure his contract, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Long was a cap casualty candidate, but the adjustments to the deal will allow him to remain with the club for years. 

Long agreed to take $2.9M less in 2019, but he can make $2.5MM of that back through incentives, Rapoport hears (on Twitter). Meanwhile, the Bears turned the 2020 into a team option and removed Long’s 2021 season, allowing him to reach free agency sooner.

Long re-upped with the Bears on a four-year, $40MM contract extension early in the 2016 season, putting him under club control through 2021. Discontinuing the deal, which included $30MM in guarantees and a $7.5MM signing bonus, would have called for the Bears to carry a $3MM cap hit against $5.5MM in savings this year.

The 2013 first-round pick has battled through injuries over the past three years, missing a total of 22 games during that span. When he’s been in the lineup, Long has been among the top offensive guards in the entire league. Pro Football Focus ranked him as just the 36th best guard in the NFL last year, but he was previously an annual inclusion in the top-five.

Thanks to a foot injury, Long missed eight regular season games in 2018. However, the three-time Pro Bowler recovered in time to play in the Bears’ opening round playoff loss to the Eagles.

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Bears Activate OG Kyle Long From IR

The Bears will be receiving a boost just in time for the playoffs. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the team will be activating offensive lineman Kyle Long off the injured reserve today. To make room on the roster, Chicago waived quarterback Tyler Bray (via ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Twitter).

Long suffered a foot injury during his team’s late-October victory over the Jets. The injury involved a tendon, and it wasn’t related to his broken ankle from 2016. His estimated time of recovery was six to eight weeks, and Long was healthy enough to be activated by the time he was eligible to return. Earlier this week, head coach Matt Nagy acknowledged that Long had completed an entire week of practice and would likely play most of the game this weekend.

‘‘Just talking to him throughout the week, I feel pretty good with him playing most of the game,’’ Nagy told Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun Times. ‘‘But we’ve just got to kind of see if that’s where we’re at and if it is a pitch count. I think a lot of that, honestly, is going to be more so when you’re in the game: How’s he feeling?

‘‘If he’s feeling good, keep him going. If he’s not . . . maybe it’s just between all of us talking, ‘Hey, let’s just get him out.’ It’s good for him any way you look at it.’’

The 2013 first-round pick has battled through injuries over the past three years, missing a total of 22 games during that span. When he’s been in the lineup, Long has been among the top offensive guards in the entire league. Pro Football Focus only ranks him 28th among 79 eligible guards in 2018, but he was previously an annual inclusion in the top-five.

Current starting offensive guards Eric Kush and James Daniels have seen their way in and out of the starting lineup this season, and Long will surely replace one of them. Daniels, a second-round rookie, has graded out as the better lineman this season, per Pro Football Focus.

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Bears Place Kyle Long On IR

The latest injury Kyle Long‘s sustained will result in a lengthy absence for the former Pro Bowl blocker. The Bears announced they’ve placed their top guard on IR on Saturday.

Long suffered a foot injury in Week 8 and was expected to miss between one and two months of action. It will now be at least two, per IR rules. The sixth-year veteran cannot return until Week 17, if the Bears were intent on bringing Long back. It would be an interesting decision if the Bears were contending for a playoff spot at that point.

The Bears promoted running back Taquan Mizzell from their practice squad, Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune tweets.

This will obviously hurt Chicago’s O-line. Long has dealt with numerous injuries in recent years but returned to be a well-regarded blocker in 2018. Pro Football Focus graded Long as the league’s No. 31 guard through seven games.

Eric Kush also missed Week 8, bringing second-round rookie James Daniels into the starting lineup for the first time. Daniels will be back with the first-stringers in Week 9. If Kush can’t go on Sunday, the Bears have former Chiefs interior lineman Bryan Witzmann and second-year UDFA Rashaad Coward as options. Kush, though, got in a full practice on Friday, placing him on track to be able to suit up Sunday.

Long played in 47 games during his first three NFL seasons — all Pro Bowl campaigns — but missed 14 games between the 2016-17 slates. He’ll add at least eight missed contests to that total. The Bears signed Long to a four-year, $40MM extension in September 2016. The veteran’s injury trouble began immediately after that deal was finalized.

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Bears OG Kyle Long To Miss 6-8 Weeks

Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long is out for at least the next month or two. NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reports (via Twitter) that the veteran guard will miss the next six to eight weeks with a foot injury. Long suffered the injury during Sunday’s win over the Jets.

Rapoport warns that Long is still gathering more info on his injury, but the six-to-eight-week timespan is the “best estimate right now.” Rapoport also tweets that the Bears could designate Long to return from the IR once he’s eligible.

The 29-year-old has spent his entire career in Chicago, earning three Pro Bowl nods along the way. Long has naturally played a major role on an effective offensive line this season, as the Bears have only allowed 16 sacks. Despite the lack of production from Jordan Howard, the Bears also rank third in rushing yards per game.

Despite the solid performance from the offensive line, Pro Football Focus only ranked Long 30th among 74 eligible offensive guard candidates. The site still ranked him as elite when it comes to pass blocking, but his run blocking score was less than stellar. His 2018 score is also a far cry from his grades from previous seasons.

With Long out indefinitely, the Bears will presumably turn to second-round rookie James Daniels to take his spot in the starting lineup. The team could also rely on reserve linemen Bradley SowellBryan Witzmann, and Rashaad Coward.

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Extra Points: Winston, Manning, Bears, Cowboys

It’s been a rough year for Jameis Winston. First he was suspended for the first three games of the season, then briefly lost his starting job when Ryan Fitzpatrick played very well in relief. He quickly won the job back, but that appears to now be in jeopardy again. Winston was benched during the Buccaneers’ loss to the Bengals today after throwing four interceptions, including a crucial pick-six.

Fitzpatrick played very well in relief, and now it looks like Winston could be heading back to the bench. Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter deflected when asked after the game who would start next week, saying “today is not the day I have to decide that. I don’t have any problems making decisions and I’ll make it when the time is right”, according to Jenna Laine of ESPN (Twitter link). Usually if a coach was sticking with his current quarterback he would say so right after the game, so it sounds like Tampa Bay may be turning back to Fitzpatrick.

Here’s more from around the league:

  • Speaking of quarterbacks being benched, Giants coach Pat Shurmur explicitly refused to rule out benching Eli Manning following the team’s bye week. Manning and the Giants offense had yet another rough week in their loss to the Redskins today, and Shurmur for the first time refused to back Manning in his post-game presser. When asked about the quarterback situation Shurmur, like Koetter, deflected and said “I don’t want to go there and I’m not going to tease that”, according to Jordan Raanan of ESPN. It sounds like Manning could be headed to the bench, and if he does, it would likely be rookie Kyle Lauletta ascending to the starting position in New York.
  • The Bears got a big win over the Jets, but they didn’t escape the game unscathed. Starting right guard Kyle Long “suffered what appeared to be a serious right foot injury” during the game, according to Jeff Dickerson of ESPN. Dickerson writes that Long was on crutches after the game, and it sounds like he could miss a good chunk of time. Long is a three-time Pro Bowler, and his absence would be a massive downgrade to Chicago’s offensive line. Long has been plagued by injuries throughout his career, missing six games in 2017 and eight games in 2016.
  • Before executing the trade for Amari Cooper, the Cowboys conducted extensive background checks into him, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN. Dallas reached out to many people who knew Cooper in the past, including his college coach Nick Saban, and “the people who knew Cooper spoke glowingly about him”, sources told Schefter. The Cowboys made a heavy investment in Cooper, sending a first round pick to Oakland, so it makes sense why they’d do their due diligence.

Bears Notes: Nagy, Howard, Long

The Bears and Ravens will square off in the Hall of Fame Game on August 2, so they are the only two teams whose training camps are already underway. Bears camp officially opened on Friday, so let’s take a look at a few notes out of Chicago:

  • Bears fans are excited about the innovations that new head coach Matt Nagy will bring to the offensive side of the football, and Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times believes that excitement is well-founded. Nagy has a great deal of young talent at his disposal, and while much of that talent is unproven, the club certainly has the chance to turn some heads this year. Nagy’s offense is expected to blend Andy Reid‘s West Coast offense with the run-pass options that offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich learned under Chip Kelly at Oregon, and it will certainly include creative formations and shifts. Nagy is also open to innovating and experimenting throughout the course of the season as he adjusts to life as an NFL head coach.
  • One key component of the offense, running back Jordan Howard, is making a concerted effort to improve his hands so that he can become a reliable contributor in the passing game, as Rich Campbell of the Chicago Tribune details. Indeed, Nagy’s offense frequently utilizes running backs as pass catchers, so Howard, who has not offered much as a receiver in his first two years in the league, needs to refine his abilities. For what it’s worth, Nagy believes that Howard can be a true three-down back. Nagy said, “There’s this notion that [Howard] is just a first-and second-down back, and I don’t believe that. Jordan can play all three downs. We’re going to do that. We’re going to use him, and we’re going to use other guys on first and second down when we need to.”
  • In a separate piece, Campbell describes the importance of offensive lineman Kyle Long — who suddenly finds himself as the offense’s second-oldest player — to the Bears’ rebuild. There are a lot of intriguing new and relatively new offensive pieces at the skill positions, but those pieces cannot come together to reach their collective potential without a strong offensive line in place. Long, whose career started out with three consecutive Pro Bowl nods, has finished each of the last two seasons on injured reserve. However, Campbell reports that Long is as close to full health as he has been in two years, and that is critical not just for the Bears’ chances in 2018, but for both player and team from a contractual standpoint. After this season, Chicago could cut Long and save $5.5MM against the cap, so the next few months will go a long way towards determining Long’s future in the Windy City.
  • Kevin White, who entered the league as a 2015 top-10 pick with a ton of promise, has seen the first three years of his professional career ravaged by injury. The Bears declined his fifth-year option earlier this offseason, so he will enter the last year of his rookie contract with a lot to prove. As Patrick Finley of the Chicago Sun-Times writes, White has a good chance of making the team’s roster out of training camp, but given the talent that Chicago has added over the past several seasons, he will need to perform very well in camp and in the preseason to earn significant playing time. Finley reports that White looks as good as ever from a physical standpoint, and the fact that he can line up anywhere on the field in Nagy’s offense will only help his cause.

Bears’ Allen Robinson Won’t Go On PUP

New Bears wide receiver Allen Robinson has not participated in most of the team’s offseason program as a result of last year’s torn ACL. However, coach Matt Nagy says he’ll be ready to roll as the team reconvenes and will not open camp on the PUP list (Twitter link via Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune). 

The Bears signed Robinson to a $14MM/year contract this offseason and they are banking on him becoming their top offensive target this year. Robinson’s 2017 was a lost cause, but the Bears believe that he can get back to his 2015 form, a season in which he had 80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. Even as he regressed in 2016, Robinson still finished out with 73 grabs for 883 yards and six TDs, so his floor is fairly high, provided that he can stay healthy.

Nagy also indicated that offensive lineman Kyle Long will be cleared for camp. Long missed a significant portion of last season and underwent shoulder, elbow, and neck procedures, but it sounds like he’s on track to play in Week 1.

The Bears went 5-11 last year and finished with the worst record in the NFC North. After retooling their offense and using a top ten pick on linebacker Roquan Smith, the Bears are feeling optimistic about their chances in 2018.

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Bears Rumors: Long, Lynch, Floyd, Burton

While franchise tag situations understandably dominated the day, here’s a look at one of the teams that didn’t take part in a summer standoff. Latest out of the Windy City:

  • Kyle Long‘s dealt with a string of injury problems in recent years. He underwent three more surgeries this offseason, but the Bears expect their top offensive lineman to be cleared in time for training camp, J.J. Stankevitz of NBC Sports Chicago notes. Long missed all of camp last season and the first two Bears games before suffering a season-ending injury that shelved him for most of Chicago’s December schedule. Shoulder, elbow and neck procedures followed, but they don’t look to be the kind of impediments Long dealt with in 2017 as he attempted to recover in time for the regular season. Long hasn’t played more than 10 games in a season since 2015. Veterans report to Bears camp July 19.
  • The Bears hope Aaron Lynch‘s history with Vic Fangio can translate to the kind of consistency that would make the former 49ers edge defender a reliable part of Chicago’s outside linebacker corps, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune notes. Hamstring and ankle injuries limited Lynch with his new team this offseason, and Kane considers him on the bubble to make the Bears. Lynch is attached to a one-year, $4MM contract. He played in just 14 games the past two seasons, restricted by injuries and a suspension, and recorded just 2.5 sacks in that span. He registered 12.5 during his first two seasons in the league, the first of which as a part of Fangio’s final 49ers defense.
  • After undergoing surgery to repair damaged the MCL and PCL in his right knee, Leonard Floyd also expects to be full-go by Bears camp, per Kane. With Pernell McPhee, Willie Young and Lamarr Houston off the roster, the Bears will need more from Floyd. Sam Acho, Jonathan Anderson and Kasim Edebali represent the non-Lynch veterans who could start opposite Floyd.
  • Trey Burton, though, may have a more important role on the 2018 Bears, with Adam Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times ranking the former Eagles backup atop the list for players most vital to the team’s prospects this season. Despite Chicago investing more in Allen Robinson, and Mitch Trubisky obviously playing a more critical position, Jahns lists Burton in this slot because of his importance to Matt Nagy‘s offense. The Chiefs have run their attack through Travis Kelce for years, and Burton will be playing that role in Chicago. The Bears added Robinson, Taylor Gabriel and Anthony Miller to their passing game, but Jahns writes Burton will do the most to elevate Trubisky’s comfort level. Burton has career-high marks of 37 receptions and 327 air yards — both in 2016.
  • Roquan Smith will be staying away from the Bears, whose rookies reported Monday, while his agent finalizes his rookie contract.

NFC Notes: Manning, Solder, Bears, Seahawks

Bears offensive lineman Kyle Long has missed 14 total games over the past two seasons, and the three-time Pro Bowler underwent neck, shoulder and elbow surgeries this past offseason. Naturally, the 29-year-old was limited during his team’s OTAs last month. However, Long still found a way to help his fellow linemen.

“He really wants to be good,”said the team’s new offensive line coach, Harry Hiestand (via Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune). “He’s fun to be around. He comes in the meeting room every day with a smile on his face, looking forward to working. He’s very interested in helping the other guys. After I’ll say something, the meeting will break and they’ll be walking out to get a break and he’ll be talking out there with the young guys. That part’s been really good about him.”

The offensive guard is confident he’ll be good to go during training camp, and he’ll be hoping to improve a Bears line that allowed 39 sacks last season.

Let’s take a look at some more notes from around the NFC…

  • Following Kam Chancellor‘s unofficial retirement, Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times says the Seahawks will surely eye the free agent safety market, a grouping that includes Eric ReidKenny Vaccaro or Tre Boston. However, as the writer notes, the Seattle front office had anticipated Chancellor’s decision, and several of their offseason moves operated under the assumption that the veteran wouldn’t be with the team in 2018. The team currently has three starting-caliber safeties in Earl Thomas, Bradley McDougald and Maurice Alexander. Of course, as Condotta notes, if Thomas is traded or decides to hold out through the start of the regular season, the team will definitely need to add some depth at the position.
  • Instead of taking one of the highly-touted quarterback prospects, the Giants ended up opting for running back Saquon Barkley with the second-overall pick in this past year’s draft. Eli Manning recognized his team’s decision to not take his eventual replacement, and he’s aiming to prove their decision right. “It was kind of a vote of confidence in that they trusted in me that I can play at a high level, can win games, take us deep in playoffs and win championships and win championships still,” Manning said during an appearance on SiriusXM’s “The Opening Drive.”And you know what? I want to prove them right and I want to make them look smart and make them to have made the right decision in doing that. I want to go out there and do great things, do my job and lead this team and make guys around me better and do what I’m supposed to do to put us in position to win those games.”
  • Manning also touched on his team’s addition of left tackle Nate Solder, who the Giants added on a four-year, $62MM deal this past offseason. “He knows how the offensive line is supposed to work together as a group,” Manning said. “He has them in there early, has them eating lunch together, has that (bond), (which) I always thought was most important with offensive line. It’s not having the five best players at each position. It’s having five guys that just work together. They communicate, they’ve got a toughness about them, they’ve got a pride in their job and being able to get that third-and-two, being able to run the ball, being able to pass protect and give us enough time and pick up the stunts and the blitzes. So I think he’s kind of bringing that attitude to this group.”

Bears Expected To Sign Earl Watford

Earl Watford visited the Bears on Monday, and that that summit is expected to lead to a contract agreement. The Bears are expected to sign the UFA offensive lineman, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune reports.

A Watford signing would reunite him with former Cardinals line mates Bobby Massie and Bradley Sowell, while supplying depth to the Bears’ offensive front.

With the Bears having released Josh Sitton earlier this offseason, and Kyle Long enduring more three more surgical procedures this offseason (story via Jeff Dickerson of ESPN.com), there’s a route to the starting lineup for Watford. The former fourth-round Cardinals pick started nine games for the Cards last season and 11 in 2016. The Jaguars initially signed Watford last March but released him later in the year, and he wound up back in Arizona.

Chicago does not have an obvious replacement for Sitton on its current roster, and Watford would bring the most experience among the candidates to start at left guard opposite Long. Eric Kush and 2017 fifth-rounder Jordan Morgan are also expected to be in that mix, per Biggs, adding that Watford could be a candidate for a swing role if he’s beaten out for a starting spot. Both Kush and Morgan underwent surgery in recent months, and Long will not participate in OTAs, per Biggs.

Pro Football Focus has graded Watford as one of the worst full-time blockers in the game over the past two seasons, however, but the 27-year-old James Madison product has made 22 starts over the past three years.

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