3-Time Pro Bowl OL Kyle Long to Return to NFL After Sitting Out 2020 Season

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMarch 9, 2021

Chicago Bears offensive guard Kyle Long (75) sets to block against the New England Patriots during an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 21, 2018, in Chicago. The Patriots won 38-31. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini)
Jeff Haynes/Associated Press

Veteran offensive lineman Kyle Long is coming out of retirement, according to Macon Gunter of the Green Light podcast.

hydrated king chris long @JOEL9ONE

Can confirm. Please credit Green Light Pod insider Macon Gunter. https://t.co/GqfrT3TEu1

Long announced in January 2020 he was stepping away for health reasons:

Kyle @Ky1eLong

Some chicagoans are probably happy to hear I’m finally stepping away and getting my body right. Some Chicagoans may be sad to hear this. Either way ufeel about it, I want u to know how lucky I am to have spent time in your city. I became a man while playing in Chicago.Thank you❤️

Kyle @Ky1eLong

Special thanks to Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and the rest of that staff for bringing me in. Thanks to and happy birthday to the young lady named Virginia as well. Ryan pace, thank you for keeping me around as well 🙏🏼

The 32-year-old was a Pro Bowler in each of his first three seasons but then missed 34 games from 2016 to 2019.

Long recently shared videos from one of his workouts, which carry a different context following Tuesday's news:

Kyle @Ky1eLong

My only fans is popping https://t.co/oQ59kFvFB2

Kyle @Ky1eLong

Dead man walking https://t.co/FvZD6QQnFy

Because of his persistent injury troubles, the 2013 first-round pick might have to settle for a short-term deal. And even if he stays healthy in 2021, nobody can say for sure if he'll get back to a Pro Bowl level after taking a year off.

Teams looking to strengthen the interior have options, too:

Having made a clean break with the league, Long will be a free agent once he makes his return official. In terms of his potential landing spots, you can probably write off a reunion with the Chicago Bears:

Kyle @Ky1eLong

They did, always. But my point was if I wanted to play again for the bears it@would need to be under a new staff. The current one released me and had every right to. It’s not that complicated. I appreciate you Ale https://t.co/dlBa6BlbBk

Kyle @Ky1eLong

I have supported this staff and the roster in the media since being released. Believe in the team and the coaches. But that doesn’t mean I would want to play for them

The league's salary-cap climate could work to Long's benefit.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2021 cap will be lower after hitting $198.2 million for 2020. General managers will have to make every dollar count. Depending on how high his price climbs, Long could be a sensible gamble.