Long announced his decision to "step away" from the NFL have seven seasons, a surprise to Bears fans and the Chicago area as the 31-year old right guard decided to walk away from the game with a year left on his deal.
"Some Chicagoans are probably happy to hear I'm finally stepping away and getting my body right," Long wrote on Twitter. "Some Chicagoans may be sad to hear this. Either way u feel 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."
Long made his retirement announcement short and sweet as the 2013 first-round pick was one of the best guards in the NFL during his seven seasons with the Bears. A three-time Pro Bowler from 2013 to 2015 (making the Pro Bowl at guard and tackle), injuries affected Long from recapturing the dominance early in his career. Long played in just 29 games over the past four seasons, failing to play half a season in three of those years. The injuries Long suffered throughout the past four seasons include a torn labrum and strained triceps, as well as foot, ankle and shoulder pain recurring from the labrum injury suffered in 2016.
Long agreed to take a pay cut last season in a revised deal, but the Bears made clear their intentions to move on from him after putting him on injured reserve in Week 5 of the season. After playing every snap in Week 4, Long was done for the season with a hip injury. He was scheduled to make $9.6 million in 2020.
"We think the world of him," Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last week, via the Chicago Tribune. "It's unfortunate he's had a handful of injuries and he's tried to battle through all of them. Kyle does have an option in his contract that we've got to look at. That'll be one of the many decisions we have to make on him. But I feel bad for all the injuries he's tried to overcome. That was a decision we made at the time, and we'll have to make another decision this offseason with his option."