With the NFL free agency season right around the corner, we’ve seen players released, and we’ve also seen players say they will be pursuing other options.
The most recent to do this is Patriots defensive end Chris Long who signed a one year deal with the team over the summer. Long took to Instagram to announce he won’t be resigning with the Patriots this season, thanking the organization and specifically Bill Belichick who “took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunity to play a small part in this wonderful year.”
Thank you Pats Nation. As a player you've given so much support to, I owe you an explanation as to why I'll be moving on in FA… even if it isn't a big deal. This year and this opportunity gave me a ton. I made lifelong friends in a great locker room and became a champion. I'm so thankful that Coach B (the GOAT) took a chance on me and allowed me the opportunity to play a small part in this wonderful year. This has zero to do with money, etc. It's the right move in my heart because I want to get back to being the player I was before. I'm thankful for my role this year, but as a competitor, I'm itching to do what I do best. It was important to say thank you personally. You may not remember me much, but I'll always remember y'all!! #driveforfive #missionaccomplished
Naturally, many people bashed Long for coming in for one ring and then leaving for the money. Admittedly, I did too. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Patriot (cough cough… Revis) win a super bowl with this team and then opt out for a big contract somewhere else. However, after taking some time to think about this and everything that comes with it, I don’t blame Chris. I actually respect him for it.
This was the first season of his entire career he wasn’t in the Rams’ blue and gold. This is also the same year he was a started for less than half the games played. Coming into the 2016-2017 season, he knew he wouldn’t be a big time player on this team, but he came here to win and that’s what happened. We love to bash players like this due to the supposed greed, but you need to stop and take a look at the situation from a player’s view and not that of a crazy Bostonian.
Being the lead man on a team for close to a decade and then going somewhere else just to be another supporting gear in a well oiled machine kind of sucks. Although it was a championship season, and he still made a million dollars and whatever bonuses on top of that, the playing time decreased. You can’t blame him for wanting to go somewhere else that needs a full time player with his talent, because you can’t argue that he’s one of the better d-ends in the NFL. Another thing to think about… What if the Patriots didn’t have plans to bring him back? There’s a lot of defensive potential in this upcoming draft and it’s no question the Pats need a long term pass rusher. Chris Long isn’t the youngest, so with that possibility of bringing in a rookie, it’s not definite they would’ve brought him back.
As much as I would’ve loved the two sides to work something out, even if it was another short term thing, the show goes on. Chris Long is one of those players who is in love with the game of football much more than the money it brings him. Instead of criticizing him, admire him for wanting to be a major part of a team again, championship caliber or not. Wherever he goes, he still will have that massive ring to remind him of the greatness he was apart of.
Everyone wants to win, but sometimes the love of the game surpasses that.