The Atlanta Falcons made a lot of cheaper, shorter deals last offseason. Perhaps none of those signings came with higher expectations than Jake Long, the first overall pick in 2008. Typically dominant but consistently hurt, Long had ample opportunity to push Jake Matthews to right tackle, or at least outperform UDFA Ryan Schraeder. The thinking was he just needed to stay healthy.
Long stayed healthy, but never got close to playing meaningful snaps. In fact, even Bryce Harris played more snaps than Long. With Matthews battling back from his injury-riddled rookie season, and Schraeder improving on his surprising sophomore season, there was no need for Long to step on the field. Long stayed healthy, and pitched in during the first game against the Carolina Panthers.
Long signed a one-year deal, so Atlanta would need to move quickly if they want him to remain their swing tackle. However, that seems unlikely. Long will probably want to find a starting job, and Atlanta will probably want to find a cheaper backup. His odds of returning appear exceptionally low.
Atlanta's options to replace Long, and his 11 offensive snaps, are pretty numerous. Atlanta could pull in a swing tackle in the later rounds of the draft, or have numerous options in free agency. It could make sense keeping Harris around due to his cheap price, and similar to 2015, pair him with a cheap veteran. The likes of Joe Barksdale, Charles Brown, Bobby Massie, and Donald Penn could all be reasonably cheap depth that could try to push for a starting spot.
Long's only realistic shot at returning is if he wallows on the market for a few weeks, and accepts a cheap contract.