CHICAGO - More than two months after placing Kyle Long on injured reserve, Bears general manager Ryan Pace said the team would have to mull a decision on the 2020 option in Long's contract.
The Bears won't have to consider that after all as Long, 31, announced Sunday on Twitter that he has retired.
"Some chicagoans are probably happy to hear I'm finally stepping away and getting my body right," Long wrote. "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."
In a reply to a Bears fan, he wrote: "I was drafted a bear and I decided to retire a bear. Not many can say that"
The three-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman visited Halas Hall on Thursday for the first time since the team placed him on IR after the Week 5 loss to the Raiders in London. Long shared via social media that the team's equipment manager, Tony Medlin, allowed Long to take his helmet and shoulder pads.
The odd thing about his move to IR in October is that Long was on the field for every snap of the Raiders game. As one teammate said at the time of the transaction, "I didn't know Kyle was injured."
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It quickly became clear that Long's time with the Bears was coming to an end.
The right guard agreed to a salary reduction last offseason, and part of the renegotiated contract turned 2020 into a club option year in which he would earn $8.1 million.
"We think the world of him," Pace said on Tuesday. "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."
Long, the 20th pick in the 2013 draft, thanked the Bears regime from that time and also thanked Pace and owner Virginia McCaskey.
"Special thanks to Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and the rest of that staff for bringing me in," Long wrote on Twitter. "Thanks to and happy birthday to the young lady named Virginia as well. Ryan pace, thank you for keeping me around as well."
Long, the 20th pick in the 2013 draft, has dealt with a series of injuries since his last Pro Bowl appearance, the most serious a right ankle injury at Tampa Bay in November 2016. Long appeared in 77 games (76 starts) in seven seasons. But 47 of those starts came in his first three seasons and he missed 34 games over the last four seasons, including 12 this season.
Teammates appreciated Long's determination and commitment, and in 2018 he was named the team's recipient of the Ed Block Courage Award.
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