Don't hold your breath if you were hoping to see Kyle Long don Jets green in 2020. After a report surfaced on Friday stating that the Jets had talked with the former Bears Pro Bowl offensive lineman about possibly coming out of retirement, Long was asked directly by Rick Tarsitano of WGN if there was any truth to the report of possibly heading to New York and he responded, "No. None."
This practice isn't totally uncommon for the Jets, however, as they were successful in luring former Panthers center Ryan Kalil out of retirement last offseason to join their offensive line. While that experiment wasn't as fruitful as they may have hoped (Kalil was placed on IR in mid-November), it wouldn't be surprising to hear about New York seeing if Long had an itch to return. After all, the 31-year-old did note back on May 29 that he has still not submitted his retirement papers at that point, which conceivably leaves the door open for a possible return into the NFL.
Judging by his social media, however, Long has lost a noticeable amount of weight and is much leaner these days, which would indicate that he's not currently in the right physical condition for an NFL season as an offensive lineman.
Long, who spent his entire seven-year NFL career in Chicago, announced his retirement from the league following the 2019 season due to a laundry list of injuries, including a hip injury that ultimately found him placed on injured reserve in mid-October. He missed 34 games over his final four seasons in the league after playing in 47 of a possible 48 over the first three years of his career. Prior to those injuries, Long was a perennial Pro Bowl player who was selected in three consecutive seasons (2013-15). He was also a second-team All-Pro selection in 2014.
Because the Bears declined his option for the 2020 season, Long is technically an unrestricted free agent at the moment.
Improving upon the offensive line has been a clear mission for Jets GM Joe Douglas this offseason, signing multiple linemen in free agency and using the No. 11 overall pick in the 2020 draft on offensive tackle Mekhi Becton. This is all an attempt to better protect quarterback Sam Darnold, who was sacked 33 times and blitzed 166 times last season.
While acquiring Long may be out of the cards, New York does have some capital to continue adding to its O-line if they so desire. According to Over The Cap, the Jets have nearly $25 million in effective cap space. Recently, the Jets were able to thanks to the post-June 1 designation they placed on corner Trumaine Johnson earlier this offseason. That move also got New York off the hook for $38.5 million in cash.