Miami Dolphins left tackle Jake Long is scheduled to become a free agent this offseason, and the hype around one of the top offensive linemen possibly hitting the open market normally takes over the the rumor mill.
Long’s situation is different, though.
The former No. 1 overall pick has not played well over the last two years, going as far as being outplayed by rookie Jonathan Martin when he took over after Long’s triceps injury in 2012.
There is little doubt that Long will find a home and earn a hefty paycheck—tackles always get overpaid in the NFL—but whether or not he stays in Miami is the biggest question remaining now.
Jake Long Wants How Much?
Games in the NFL are won and lost in the trenches (the offensive and defensive lines), and when an offensive tackle as highly touted as Long hits the market, he usually gets what he asks for in terms of compensation.
According to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com, Long’s reported free-agent asking price is through the roof, even for a left tackle:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
. @ProFootballTalk reports RT Andre Smith wants $9M a year. I hear LT Jake Long made known he wants $11M a year. Interested to see who pays3/3/2013, 5:40:21 PM
Long had two lackluster seasons in a row, with the 2012 campaign ending early via a trip to the IR with a triceps injury, and there is no way the veteran will get the $11 million a year he is asking for this offseason.
The newfound injury concerns—coupled with the lackluster play at left tackle—has many scouts and NFL insiders (h/t Mike Florio) agreeing that Long is better situated to be a right tackle.
Not only will a move to right tackle hurt the number of teams interested in Long, it will drive the price franchises are willing to pay way down.
Dolphins Front-Runners to Retain Long?
The Miami Dolphins took the left tackle No. 1 overall to be the savior of their franchise and protect whoever was under center’s blind side. After five years of service, Long is trying to ensure a huge payday this offseason when he signs a new contract.
Long told NFL Total Access (h/t NFL.com) about his time in Miami, and how he would be open to returning to South Florida for the right price:
We're going to have to see. The last five years I've really enjoyed being a part of the Dolphins. They have such a great tradition of football there. The community and fans have really embraced me and I've loved playing there.
I'd be open to continue my career there, but it's essentially on them, see what they want to do and what direction they want to head in and go from there. That's the business side of it, so we'll see what they want to do.
Add in the fact that Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk is reporting that Long is not garnering much interest at all considering his lack of elite play recently and the franchise left tackle money he is requesting.
If the market continues to be stagnant for Long’s services, the Dolphins will regain the leverage in the contract negotiations and will be able to re-sign the tackle for a fair price, certainly less than $11 million a year.
While there is no questioning the lack of elite play from former No. 1 overall pick Jake Long over the last two seasons—injuries and any kind of support have factored in to his play—he would still step onto the field with the Chicago Bears and be the best lineman on the team.
According to Rotoworld, ESPN analyst John Clayton appeared on ESPN News to suggest, “that free agent LT Jake Long ‘could go to Chicago’ if he hits the market.”
Chicago allowed 44 sacks last season, and as stellar as quarterback Jay Cutler can be when he has time in the pocket, he can be just as inconsistent when the pressure from the defensive line gets to him.
The Bears will be looking to add bodies across the front line, and Long will certainly be a consideration. Whether or not he gets $11 million, though, is a different story.