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Long, 31, played his entire seven-year career with the Chicago Bears before walking away from the game in January.
During an appearance on the Rapsheet and Friends podcast (h/t NBC Sports Chicago’s Bryan Perez), Long said retiring from football wasn’t a difficult decision.
“It was the easiest decision I’ve ever made because I didn’t recognize the guy on film,” he said. “I’ll be honest, I was an ass-kicker for a long time. You line ’em up, I’ll put ’em down, but there came a point where I couldn’t do that anymore, and it was frustrating. So I knew it was time.”
Injuries took a significant toll on Long throughout his career. The three-time Pro Bowler was placed on season-ending injured reserve three times in the past four seasons and missed at least six games in each of the past four seasons.
Mehta did note the Bears declined Long’s contract option for 2020 after he retired, making him an unrestricted free agent if he wanted to play again.
Per Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus, the Jets had the NFL‘s fifth-worst offensive line last season and allowed opposing teams to pressure the quarterback in 2.5 seconds or less on 27.5 percent of dropbacks, the second-highest mark in the league.
New York has made the offensive line a priority this offseason. The team signed guard Greg Van Roten, tackle George Fant, center Connor McGovern and drafted tackle Mekhi Becton with the 11th overall pick.
Long’s recent injury woes make it difficult to gauge how productive he could be, but the Jets don’t have anything to lose at this point by seeing if he has an itch to keep playing.