Kyle Long Stepping Away from Football

Via Twitter, Kyle Long said he'll be leaving the game at least temporarily and talked about his career with the Bears in the past tense.

Kyle Long may or may not be done with football, but his time with the Chicago Bears apparently has ended.

In a series of messages on Twitter, Long spelled out a situation Sunday where he is leaving the game at least for a while. And he definitely is leaving the Bears.

Long said via Twitter: "Some chicagoans are probably happy to hear I'm finally stepping away and getting my body right. Some Chicagoans may be sad to hear this. Either way ufeel about it, I want u to know how lucky I am to have spent time in your city. I became a man while playing in Chicago. Thank you."

In recalling his entry into the league as a first-round draft pick in 2013, Long added: "Special thanks to Phil Emery, Marc Trestman and the rest of that staff for bringing me in. Thanks to and happy birthday to the young lady named Virginia as well. Ryan pace, thank you for keeping me around as well."

Bears owner Virginia McCaskey turned 97 on Sunday.

Long had tweeted after the season ended that he was going to Halas Hall for the first time since he played in his last game, in London against the Raiders in Week 5. He later pointed out team equipment manager Tony Medlin let him have his Bears helmet and pads.

Long turned 31 last month, so a return to the NFL wouldn't necessarily be out of the question if he can rehab again and gain strength.

The Bears can save Long's $6 million against the 2020 cap, as well as $2.1 million on roster and workout bonuses, by not picking up his option before March 18. They would still have to count $1.5 million of his prorated signing bonus against the 2020 cap.

Long went on injured reserve after a hip injury and finished his last four seasons on injured reserve. Ankle and neck injuries have been big problems, and last season also began with a disciplinary situation when he was involved in a preseason practice fight at Halas Hall and yanked off a teammate's helmet and began using it as a weapon.

Long missed 34 of a possible 64 games the last four seasons.

The Bears finished the season with Rashaad Coward at right guard and then Ted Larsen after a knee injury to Coward.

Long made the Pro Bowl at both guard and tackle in his first three seasons.

Long's departure seemed a formality since the team's Tuesday season-ending press conference when GM Ryan Pace was evasive on discussing Long's future.

"We think the world of him," Pace said. "It's unfortunate, he's had a handful of injuries. He's tried to battle through all of them. Kyle does have an option in his contract that we got to look at. That will be one of the decisions, one of the many decision, we have to make on him. 

"But I feel bad for all the injuries he's tried to overcome. That was a decision we made at the time. Then we'll have to make another decision this off-season with his option. "

Apparently the decision has been made.