This past weekend, Eric Weddle played in his first NFL game since December 29, 2019 after he was signed by the Los Angeles Rams. Weddle, 37, signed out of nowhere and played 19 snaps during the Rams’ 34-11 victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Ever since, we’ve been thinking about Rob Gronkowski‘s return to the game, Weddle’s encore, and the sheer number of recently retired, well-rested players who might still offer a bit of juice to a playoff team in need during these crazy COVID times. Below are three players we think would be likely to suit up if their numbers were called.
Julian Edelman, WR, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Last year, Gronkowski came out of retirement, reunited with Tom Brady, and won a Super Bowl Championship…all part of his plan to pepper us all with relentless USAA commercials. Would it even be a surprise to see Brady, the Subway spokesman who plays quarterback on the side, bring the band back together?
Julian Edelman, 35, cashed in on the endorsement front with his Truly Hard Seltzer advertisements after giving what appeared to be a reluctant “I’m done” to Kevin Hart’s question about a potential return during a star-studded video conference back in April. A gridiron encore would further enhance his marketability and potentially pave the way for future high-profile opportunities after football. More importantly, Edelman would fill an immediate need for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and his pal Brady.
With wide receiver Chris Godwin out for the season with an injury, and Antonio Brown‘s subsequent circus-like release at the end of the regular season, the Bucs are now asking a lot from the likes of Scotty Miller and Tyler Johnson, players who appear to be better suited for lesser roles on a team with aspirations of repeating as Super Bowl champions. Signing Edelman would make a ton of sense, even at this very late stage of the game.
Clay Matthews, OLB, Green Bay Packers
It would be far from a stretch to see Clay Matthews, 35, return as a member of the Green Bay Packers, as it seemed like a possibility at the start of the season. In August, quarterback Aaron Rodgers openly lobbied to bring back the six-time Pro Bowler, a stance he somewhat laughed off several days later. Matthews, who played his last game for the Los Angeles Rams in 2019 under Head Coach Sean McVay, would make a ton of sense, especially if the Rams end up getting past the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tomorrow. Not only would Matthews offer a veteran presence, leadership, and an instant jolt of energy, he might also offer some behind-the-trenches insight on the offensive tendencies of his former team and coach.
Tamba Hali or Chris Long, DE, Kansas City Chiefs
It wouldn’t be a surprise to see the Kansas City Chiefs add a rotational pass rusher to take pressure off of a struggling secondary, especially if the Cincinnati Bengals manage to sneak past the Tennessee Titans this weekend. Tamba Hali, 38, would be the more obvious add of the two on the surface, given his long, productive career as a member of the Chiefs. However, Chris Long, 36, might make a bit more sense.
Hall has been away from the game longer, and Long has at least a peripheral familiarity with Head Coach Andy Reid. Among other connections, his younger brother Kyle Long is a reserve offensive lineman for Kansas City Chiefs, and is currently listed as the second-string right tackle on the team’s depth chart.
The elder Long started 36 games for then-Head Coach Steve Spagnuolo while a member of the St. Louis Rams, then won a Super Bowl as a member of the New England Patriots while playing under Defensive Line Coach Brendan Daly. Spagnuolo is now the Cheifs’ defensive coordinator, and Daly mans his same role now for the Chiefs. Furthermore, Outside Linebackers Coach Ken Flajole, Long’s Defensive Coordinator in St. Louis, was also a member of the defensive coaching staff of the Philadelphia Eagles when Long won a Super Bowl there.
The signing of Hall, a longtime favorite of the Chiefs faithful, would energize the fan base. Meanwile, Long would be a familiar face to many in the locker room of a team that aims to make its third straight Super Bowl appearance and win its third Super Bowl Championship as a franchise. It would be Long’s third Super Bowl ring, as well.
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)