Jake Long was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. Over the first few years, Long was one of the top two or three offensive linemen in the league, ranking in the top two among tackles in 2009 and 2010. he slipped to 21st in 2011, and is currently only ranked 47th out of a possible 75, according to various scouting reports. With Miami being forced to place Long on season ending IR for the second consecutive season, it may be the time to move on from Long for Miami.
After having to finish the 2011 NFL season in IR after tearing his triceps, Long will suffer a similar fate in 2012, having to miss the final four games with a torn triceps injury suffered in Miami’s 23-16 loss against the New England Patriots at home this past Sunday.
While it is a big loss, it is not as if the Dolphins were going to make the playoffs this season with or without Long. And, considering how so many have felt as if he has slipped quite a bit, you have to figure that a rebuilding Dolphins’ franchise will not seek to sign Long to a long term contract extension. They could franchise tag him this offseason, but it would cost them nearly $15 million to do so for just one year.
For a tackle ranked in the bottom half of the league, that does not appear to be fiscally wise for the low spending Dolphins.
The problem is, while Miami may not be wise to keep Long, they may not be able to afford to lose him either. They will get to see how rookie draft pick Jonathan Martin does while playing the left tackle in Long’s absence. If he does well, maybe they shift him to Long’s spot permanently going forward and look to draft or sign a right tackle after the season.
Then again, is Martin does not play well at left tackle, Long may be able to remain in Miami for at least one more season, as the Dolphins look to find his successor.
Either way. regardless of whether Long has already seen and played his best days, or if he can undergo a resurgence in 2013, the Dolphins are more than just one player away from being a serious postseason contender. At this point, Long may be hoping that Miami does not slap him with the franchise tag, allowing him to go to a new team next season.
It may be in everybody’s best interests.