Eagles Possibly Slammed Door on Super Bowl Champion’s Return

Chris Long

Getty Chris Long retired from the Eagles after the 2018 season.

One of the forgotten storylines of the Eagles’ offseason in 2019 was the search for a fourth edge rusher.

Philadelphia had a dire need for another defensive end to pair with Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and Derek Barnett. Connor Barwin was lobbying to fill that role but it never came to fruition. The Eagles ultimately went into the regular season with Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall on the roster. Another name that kept coming up last year was Chris Long. It appeared to just be wishful thinking from fans but Long recently indicated that he was “pretty close” to a return in 2019.

Long, who announced his retirement from the NFL last May, was a guest on the Sports Illustrated Media Podcast with Jimmy Traina and shared an interesting nugget about his desire to make a comeback. The 35-year-old admitted the Eagles had shown interest in 2019 and he had been training on turf for “maybe two-and-a-half weeks.” In the end, it just didn’t work out.

“I was close to coming back this year (2019) in Philly. I don’t think I needed that much time at all,” Long told Traina. “I trained a little bit, but I was maybe two-and-a-half weeks on the field training and I felt great, like I could just run out the tunnel and play.”

How close was Long to returning for the squad he helped win a Super Bowl for? Well, he muted the rest of the conversation and told Traina that he would tell him the real reason “offline.”

“I was pretty close,” Long said, via 97.3 ESPN. “But I can’t say why exactly, but it just didn’t work out, but I will tell you that I was ready.”

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Casey Toohill Emerges as New Edge Rusher in Philly

The Eagles didn’t use a high draft pick to help their pass-rushing deficiency, but they did invest something. The team selected hybrid linebacker Casey Toohill in the seventh round (233rd overall) in the hope that he can develop into an edge rusher.

Toohill is a promising young prospect. He finished with 14 career sacks at Stanford, including eight sacks during his senior season along with 11.5 tackles for loss and 57 total tackles. Considered raw by many NFL scouts, he brings intriguing size (6-foot-4, 250 pounds) and speed (4.62 seconds in the 40). He’s a developmental player with room for growth.

“I think you’re going to get an athletic, versatile player that will give it his all every play,” Toohill told reporters. “I want to just come in, work hard, and be relentless. I think whether or not fans have watched me, I just want to come in and learn and help the team win in any way possible.”

Better yet, Toohill has experience playing in a pass-rushing role in college. He feels confident about being a down rusher in the NFL. Perhaps he can evolve into Long’s role someday for the Eagles.

“I guess the one thing to clarify with that is that at Stanford I put my hand in the ground a decent amount as well, so I’m not completely uncomfortable with that at all,” Toohill said. “But I think playing outside linebacker is a little bit different from D-end. Different focus. New schemes. There are adjustments with that and the speed of the NFL.”

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