Eagles

Eagles DE Chris Long still wants to play but doesn't rule out retirement

usa_chris_long_eagles.jpg
USA Today Images

Eagles DE Chris Long still wants to play but doesn't rule out retirement

Eagles defensive end Chris Long would like to continue his NFL career but hasn’t yet ruled out the possibility of retirement. 

After the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, Long pondered retirement before deciding to return for his 11th NFL season, which was a productive one. But Long said that for the rest of his career, each offseason will be met with the same questions about his career. 

Long, who will turn 34 in late March, was on 94WIP on Friday afternoon and was asked about his football future going into this offseason.

I’d like to play football in 2019. I thought I had a strong year and felt good physically. Listen, I know I’m an older guy. But, you know, I don’t think I’ve missed a practice over the last two years. I feel like I’ve been durable and ready when called upon.

In 2018, Long played in all 16 regular-season games and both playoff games (he hasn’t missed a game since signing here) and had a productive season. He had 6 1/2 sacks, his highest total since 2013, and two forced fumbles. Long has had six forced fumbles over the past two seasons.

After giving him a raise before last season, Long is under contract for the 2019 season with a salary of $3.5 million and a cap hit of $5.6 million. Sure, the Eagles have some salary cap gymnastics to perform this offseason, but that’s not an outrageous amount of money for a productive pass rusher. And knowing Long, he’ll just give away all of it to charity anyway.

At the end of the day, the itch is still there, I still love playing on Sunday. But as far as what happens, I’m literally just kind of sitting back and seeing what the Eagles do and who they bring in or don’t bring in and how deep that room gets. But I’d still love to play. But at the end of the day at 33, I could go either way.

It makes sense that Long is going to kind of sit back and watch for a while this offseason. The Eagles have decisions to make on the defensive line. Michael Bennett is under contract for 2019, but Brandon Graham is set to be an unrestricted free agent and Howie Roseman just called this an extremely deep draft for defensive linemen.

Still, the Eagles would probably like to have Long back in 2019 and it’s good news that he seems ready to lace up his cleats for one more season.

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Will Jason Kelce be a Hall of Famer?

Will Jason Kelce be a Hall of Famer?

Jason Kelce is the latest in a series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL.

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Saturday, July 20: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Today: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters
Thursday, July 25: Darren Sproles

Numbers: Kelce hasn’t missed a game over the last four years. He and Malcolm Jenkins are the only Eagles to start all 69 regular-season and postseason games since opening day 2015.

Kelce has started 110 games since the start of his rookie year in 2011. He’s one of only three Eagles left on the roster from the 2011 season.

Postseason numbers: Kelce is one of 10 Eagles who started all five playoff games during the Super Bowl run in 2017 and again last year. Along with Fletcher Cox, Nick Foles and Lane Johnson, he’s one of four Eagles to start all the team’s playoff games since 2013.

Honors: Has made All-Pro or Pro Bowl four of the last five years, but oddly the two years he’s made first-team All-Pro (2017 and 2018), he hasn’t made the Pro Bowl. He was a Pro Bowler in 2014 and 2016. He’s actually one of only six players in NFL history to make first-team All-Pro in two separate seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and the only non-kicker to achieve that in the last 50 years.

Favorite stat: Kelce is one of only four centers in NFL history drafted in the sixth round or later to make first-team All-Pro more than once. The others are Hall of Famer Jim Ringo and New Jersey native Bob DeMarco for the Cards in the 1960s, and more recently Tom Nalen of the Broncos.

Records and rankings 

• Kelce has started 110 games in an Eagles uniform. The only center in franchise history to start more games than Kelce is Guy Morriss (151).

• Kelce is one of only three NFL centers to start all 64 regular-season games since opening day 2015 and the only one to do it for the same team. Ben Jones and Alex Mack have also started every game at center over the last four years, but Jones has been with both the Texans and Titans and Mack with the Browns and Falcons.

• Kelce is also the only NFC center in the last 30 years to start for a Super Bowl championship team and make All-Pro at least twice. The last NFC center to accomplish that was Jay Hilgenberg of the Bears, who started on the 1985 team and was an All-Pro in 1988 and 1989. Since then, the only centers who’ve been Super Bowl champs and multiple All-Pros are Tom Nalen of the Broncos and Jeff Saturday of the Colts.

Analysis 

It’s not as crazy as it sounds. Kelce still needs to beef up his résumé with a couple more All-Pro or Pro Bowl seasons to be in the mix, and considering he’s been thinking about retirement recently, he may not play long enough to get those honors.

But Kelce is already a two-time All-Pro, and of the 17 centers in NFL history who’ve been selected to three All-Pro teams, 15 of them are in the Hall of Fame. The only exceptions are Les Bingaman, who was a three-time All-Pro in a very short career in the 1950s with the Lions (4½ years as a starter) and Clyde Smith, who played in the 1920s.

What hurts Kelce is that he’s only made two Pro Bowls in eight seasons, even though he’s clearly been deserving of more. The voters won’t know that.

What works for him is his durability — he missed signifiant time only in 2012 and has started 98 of 102 games since 2013 — and how rare it is for a sixth-round pick to have this kind of individual success and his importance to the Super Bowl offense. Even his parade speech helps because there’s not a lot of centers who get that kind of attention.

But Kelce is 31 now and realistically needs a minimum of two more Pro Bowl seasons or one more first-team All-Pro season to be a serious contender for Canton.

Verdict: Will not be a Hall of Famer. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

The 3 areas where Doug Pederson thinks he's grown most as a coach

The 3 areas where Doug Pederson thinks he's grown most as a coach

In less than five years, Doug Pederson has gone from a mostly unpopular coaching hire to being considered one of the top head coaches in the league. 

Earlier this week, NFL.com ranked Pederson as the fifth-best coach in the league. And after the last two years, that’s hard to argue. 

A big reason folks were so skeptical of the hire back in 2016 was because of Pederson’s relative inexperience. Ten years earlier, he was coaching high school ball, he had been an offensive coordinator for just three seasons and a play-caller for minimal time. But even as he enters Year 4, Pederson still isn’t a finished product. He’d be the first to admit he has more to learn. 

But before his team broke for summer, Pederson was asked about where he’s grown most as a head coach in his first three seasons on the job. 

He named three areas: 

Situational football 

“Situational football, you know, in the last three years has really been a top priority of mine. I think I've learned a lot from in-game decisions and different third-down decisions, fourth-down decisions, when to go for it on two-point conversions, things like that. And listen, I've got help in that area, but I think I've become better educated, I've studied that a little bit more, I've grown in that area, quite a bit.”

My take: If you’ve been paying attention to Pederson’s press conferences, especially during teaching times in minicamps and training camp, you’ll already know how important situational football is to him. We’re talking about third downs, fourth downs, red zone, backed up. Success in these situations is paramount to overall success and Pederson realizes it. This is where experience helps and there’s no expediting the process of acquiring it. Remember, Pederson didn’t have much time as a play-caller in K.C., so he’s been learning on the job and doing it well. 

We all know the Eagles use analytics, but some of it comes down to Pederson’s gut, too. He’s managed to find a real balance of the two over his first three years. What’s been most impressive is that in three years, Pederson managed to find his aggressive style fairly quickly. He knows the type of coach and play-caller he wants to be and backs it up with gutty calls all the time. In his first three seasons, the Eagles have gone for it on fourth down 76 times, the most in the league. The next closest team (Green Bay) has 65 attempts. The average of the other 31 teams during the three-year span is 46. 

Managing personalities

“I think just overall managing the football team with a lot of the different personalities that kind of come and go with your team and, you know, being able to handle the LeGarrette Blounts and Jay Ajayis and now DeSean Jackson back on your team and guys that are unique personality types and profiles, I mean, just being able to manage all that and listen to the team. I think I've had a pretty good handle on just listening to the guys and understanding where they are.”

My take: You’ve heard the cliche, but it’s true. The locker room really is a melting pot. This is where we get back to Jeff Lurie’s “emotional intelligence” comment during the coaching search of 2016. Pederson has emotional intelligence and his time as a player in the league has informed his knowledge about the variance of personalities in a locker room. He holds his players accountable, but he doesn’t treat them all the same; they’re not. Treating players the same is a high school/college mentality that doesn’t seem to fly when you’re coaching professional athletes who are making a ton of money and are at varying stages of their careers and lives. This is something Chip Kelly never seemed to understand. 

One of the most important things Pederson has done was when he set up his veteran council to report back to him with concerns of the whole team. Pederson immediately understood the more players are listened to, the more invested they’ll be, which can never be a bad thing. 

Building a staff

“And then I just think building a staff each year, because coaches are going to come and go, and being able to replace them with quality guys and teachers. And I think that's another area where I've gotten better in the last four years.”

My take: This is important for a team that’s having success because coaches will leave for promotions. I think it’s fair to question some of these decisions — promoting Mike Groh, hiring Gunter Brewer — but overall, the Eagles have so far been able to remain successful from a coaching standpoint. Promoting from within is something always stressed by Andy Reid and Pederson seems to feel the same way. Pederson got off to a good start in 2016 by bringing on Jim Schwartz and then having the humility to keep a bunch of good coaches from Kelly’s staff. Pederson thinks he’s grown in this area, but it’s hard for us to judge this just yet. We’ll learn more about this skill in the coming years. But Pederson’s willingness to listen to his coaches makes finding quality coaches to surround him even more important.  

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles