Chris Long left the Patriots for the Eagles in free agency after last year’s Super Bowl, and as New England coach Bill Belichick prepares to face Long in this year’s Super Bowl, he says Long is better off in Philadelphia.
Belichick said today that Long’s talents are better served in a defense like the one Eagles coordinator Jim Schwartz runs than in the one Belichick runs.
“Chris has a lot of good skills, but his overall skill set and experience is probably more in – it definitely is more in the system that he’s in than it was in our system,” Belichick said. “He did a great job for us. Look, there was no better teammate or guy that tried to embrace the program than Chris, but in the end he probably has a better fit there for his skills and for this point in his career than maybe we had for him. I understand that. He probably made a good decision.”
At the same time, Belichick indicated the Patriots would have had a roster spot for Long if he had wanted to stay.
“Not that it wouldn’t have worked out here,” Belichick said. “I’m not saying that or maybe it couldn’t have worked out here. I don’t know. It certainly has worked out well for him there, just like it worked out well for him here last year. I’d say that’s one of the benefits of free agency, is it gives players opportunities and teams to find the right guy for the right situation, put guys on your roster that you need or if a team has an excess of players at a certain position then it gives those players an opportunity to go somewhere where there’s a better opportunity for them. We saw that when I was with the Giants. We had a lot of depth at linebacker. We had guys that didn’t play at linebacker because of the players ahead of them, not because they weren’t good players, that had there been free agency they probably would’ve played somewhere else. That’s one of the reasons why free agency was talked about and advocated and I think that’s one of the benefits of free agency. It’s worked well for players like that to give them options. If the team and the player make the right choice then it works out well.”
Long has said he signed with the Patriots in 2016 largely because he wanted to experience winning a Super Bowl, which he never came close to doing playing for the Rams from 2008 to 2015. Now he’ll see if he can make it two Super Bowls in a row.