Chris Long's reworked deal with Eagles a step in right direction

The Philadelphia Eagles recently reworked defensive end Chris Long's contract, which can be viewed as a positive sign regarding a key player who has been mulling his future this offseason.

According to ESPN's Field Yates, Long would be guaranteed $3 million in 2018. His base salary would jump to $2.5 million guaranteed from $1 million non-guaranteed.

Earlier this month, Long said in an interview that he didn't know whether he'd be playing in Philadelphia in 2018, noting that at age 32, "you have limited time left to play the game you love, so the role has to be exactly right for me." Long added that despite feeling he has gas left in the tank, "every player my age has to weigh how they want to go out," evoking the idea of retirement.

The NFL Network reported Wednesday that Long has yet to come to a decision on whether to return.

The fact that a reworked deal has been executed would appear to be a step in a direction toward the Eagles, not away from them.

Long was credited with five sacks and four forced fumbles, and he was second on the team with 38 quarterback hits/pressures in 2017 despite playing just 48 percent of the snaps. And he came up big in the clutch. His strip sack against the Los Angeles Rams in a December matchup secured a victory and with it, the NFC East title. He also had some big moments in the postseason, none bigger than the quarterback hit that led to Patrick Robinson's game-changing interception return for a touchdown in the NFC Championship Game against the Minnesota Vikings.

The depth that he helped provide was key for the Eagles during their Super Bowl run. They had seven defensive linemen play at least 400 snaps, the most in the NFL, according to ESPN Stats & Information. The ability to roll in fresh bodies late in games paid big dividends, including in the waning moments of Super Bowl LII when Brandon Graham made a strip sack of Tom Brady to secure the team's first Lombardi trophy.

While the addition of Michael Bennett from the Seattle Seahawks should prove beneficial for a defensive end group that includes Graham, Derek Barnett and Steven Means, the quality of depth would take a hit if the Eagles were to lose Long after already losing the recently released Vinny Curry this offseason.

Long's concern about his role would seem to be tied to the addition of Bennett, who is likely to be featured often on obvious passing downs, which could eat into Long's opportunities to chase the quarterback.

Money is not his motivator -- he played the entire 2017 season for free, donating his salary to help with education efforts in his hometown of Charlottesville, Virginia. But by guaranteeing the $3 million, the Eagles are showing that Long will be on the team and is firmly in their plans as they gear up to try to make another Super Bowl run. Perhaps that will be enough to ease his mind entering what would be his 11th NFL season.