Rob Ninkovich Thinks This Free Agent Would Be ‘Great Fit’ With Patriots

Kyle Long has a tie to New England

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A proven veteran with multiple Pro Bowl selections on his football résumé has re-entered the open market, and he potentially could be of interest to the New England Patriots.

Kyle Long is set to return to the NFL after a short-lived retirement. Long was limited to four games in the 2019 season due to injuries and called it quits in January of last year. The Chicago Bears, who drafted Long with the 20th overall pick in 2013, proceeded to decline the guard’s option for the 2020 campaign, so he now is free to sign with any team.

Rob Ninkovich is hoping that team is the Patriots, who are likely to lose arguably their best offensive lineman in free agency.

“I want to see Kyle Long go from the Bears in retirement to the Patriots,” Ninkovich said Thursday on ESPN’s “Get Up.” “They’re going to lose Joe Thuney — that’s going to be a need for the Patriots. I think Kyle Long to the Patriots is a great fit. Coming out of retirement, going to the Patriots. They’re going to get the most out of Kyle Long and I think he understands — with his brother playing there — what to expect.”

New England recently bolstered its offensive line via a reported trade for Trent Brown, but uncertainty still hovers over the unit. Marcus Cannon still has yet to officially announce whether he’s returning after opting out of last season, and even if he does return, the Patriots very well could elect to release him to free up salary-cap space. Center David Andrews, like Thuney, also is an impending free agent, and New England might not be keen on moving Isaiah Wynn to the interior. The 2018 first-rounder also is developing a reputation for being injury-prone.

Not only would Long provide a nice on-field boost for the Patriots but he seemingly would be a solid addition to the locker room as well. He also probably is not in a position to command significant money as a free agent, given his injury history and off year in 2020. As such, New England would be wise to look into Long.

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