— Chicago Bears (@ChicagoBears) February 26, 2019
The new deal will create salary-cap space, eliminating doubt about whether he would return for a seventh season with the organization.
The 2013 first-round draft pick was to count $8.5 million against the team’s salary cap this season with a base salary of $6.9 million, a $100,000 workout bonus and $1.5 million in proration from the signing bonus he received on his contract extension before the 2016 season.
Specifics of Long’s pay cut and the Bears’ savings remain to be seen. It’s possible the team created per-game roster bonuses in the reworked contract that will allow him to earn back some of the money, provided the three-time Pro Bowl selection remains healthy and on the field. The Bears were projected to have about $11 million in cap space before this move. That doesn’t take into account the release of kicker Cody Parkey, which officially has not been made. Parkey is fully guaranteed $3.5 million for next season.
- What I was texted a week ago: “Kyle Long isn’t going anywhere.” I didn’t send a follow-up to that text because I never actually believed Long was going anywhere. Long apparently made it clear to the Bears he would do anything necessary to remain with the organization. And the Bears made sure not to lose one of their finest leaders.
- This is the kind of move that endears a player to the fans. It’s a far smaller version of the Olin Kreutz decision to take less money in Chicago and spurn Miami. But there’s a fine line between a beloved player and a legendary one. Long isn’t having a Hall of Fame career like Urlacher or Butkus. Kreutz is about as close as they come, however, and one could make a good argument he belongs in Canton. Long needs a ring to cement legendary status.
- A move like this may just be about creating options. The Bears didn’t have much money to play with as free agency approaches. Now they have a bit more. It could also be about specific players, namely Bryce Callahan. We have to wait and see if there’s a corresponding move. But there is certainly more air to breath inside Halas Hall today.