It’s still early, but based on his introductory press conference, Kyle Long is going to fit in just fine with the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Thursday, the veteran offensive lineman spoke to the media about 24 hours after reports emerged that the Pro Bowler was signing with the Chiefs following his one and only free agent visit with the rival Las Vegas Raiders earlier this week.
It took only five minutes for reporters to ask about his meeting with the Raiders, and while Long acknowledged it was a “good trip,” his follow-up comments were pretty telling of the differences between the AFC West franchises.
“I wanted to experience free agency, I had never done that before,” Long said on Thursday. “Vegas had me in. It was a good trip and I went straight from there to here. It feels awkward landing in a city that you don’t consider home, but when you walk into this building here in Kansas City, it becomes apparent that things are different here. Sitting in coach [Andy] Reid’s office I just knew this is where I wanted to be and if they wanted to have me, I was going to do everything in my power to make this happen.”
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Long Rules out Playing 1 Position Along the O-Line
While Long did not personally reveal his new jersey number during his press conference, Macon Gunter, co-host of the Green Light With Chris Long podcast, first reported on Thursday that the former first-round pick will wear No. 69, which the team later confirmed.
With one mystery solved, the attention around Long now turns to where he’ll play for Kansas City in 2021. When asked whether he is more comfortable at offensive guard or kicking out to tackle, Long effectively ruled out playing only one position: center.
“I’m comfortable with anywhere on the offensive line,” Long noted. “One thing I can tell you with conviction is I’ve never played center. I’m left-handed. I don’t know many left-handed centers. But I’m open to learning anything. I’ve yet to meet all the guys in the offensive line room and I’m so looking forward to that and finding my place in there. I just want to help bring an edge every day and compete and win some football games.”
Long, 32, has spent the majority of his seven-year career holding down the right guard spot, however, he did make his third consecutive (and most recent) Pro Bowl as the Chicago Bears‘ right tackle in 2015.
With the newly signed Joe Thuney — whom with Long shared a Q39 barbeque dinner with on Wednesday evening — most likely locked into his natural left guard position for the foreseeable future, Long is likely looking at an open competition for the right guard spot with former starter Laurent Duvernay-Tardif. If LDT is able to hold on to his spot post-training camp, Long makes for a very strong depth option assuming he can stay healthy.
The former Bears star also told reporters he has been “Rocky IV’ing it” over the last several months to bulk up and train for the upcoming season, as evidenced by a recent workout video on his Instagram page.
Long Reached out to Patrick Mahomes Prior to Signing
As is often the case with many teams when free agency opens, star players can use their leverage and social media following to recruit other top players to their team. The same can be said for the Chiefs in recent years. While Patrick Mahomes doesn’t usually get involved publically, the 2018 league MVP is arguably the biggest draw any club could have presently, so it’s fair to wonder if he played a role in the Chiefs closing the deal with Long.
“I absolutely did talk to Pat — I actually reached out to him,” Long admitted. “I said, ‘Patrick, get me in there, man. You know? I’d love to come play for you.’ Obviously, [general manager] Brett [Veach] did a tremendous job getting me in here and I’m just so lucky to be here and so happy to be a Chief. That’s the first time I’ve actually said that: I’m so happy to be a Chief.”
Mahomes’ talent and leadership are evident to all those who have watched him grow into his current form since arriving in 2017. For Long, knowing the Chiefs would have a chance to compete every week with Mahomes under center was a big draw.
“I’ve never been around a guy who can throw it from every inch of the football field to any inch on the football field,” Long said, via 41 Action News’ Nick Jacobs. “I look forward to that. I look forward to being in a huddle with a guy we know we have a shot with every down, every game, every week. It’s a unique opportunity. He’s a special talent and I’m just blessed to have this opportunity.”
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!