One of the many questions that the Miami Dolphins front office is facing is whether or not to re-sign Jake Long. In Madden terms, Jake Long is a “big mauler” or a stalwart left tackle. The Dolphins have paid Jake Long well over 60 million since his rookie deal in 2008. Jake Long can pass block and run-block quite well…when healthy.
The pros for re-signing Jake Long start with four pro-bowl selections, his leadership on the offensive line, hard working in the offseason, and a protector of the Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
However, there is not much else to say that is positive. After four seasons, Jake Long started to break down with leg injuries, sore shoulders, and now a triceps tear that is currently healing.
His injuries have led to two consecutive late season appearances on the injured reserve.
Even though Long has been missing, the Dolphins are 4-2 without Long and have shown resiliency in plugging in other linemen to get the job done.
So as delicate and as puzzling the negotiation must be for the Dolphins front office, the biggest question remains: Is Jake Long elite?
Based on a blog post by Armando Salguero, only Jeff Ireland knows, but he is not saying. In fact, Salguero compared Long to one former Jacksonville Jaguar Tony Boselli, who started to break down his 4th season. We all know that Boselli broke down to the point that he was practically handed to the Houston Texans for free in the expansion draft.
However, if Ireland isn’t saying that Jake Long is elite, then the negotiations can’t be leaning favorably for what the Dolphins want to pay Jake Long. Two people believe that Jake Long is elite, his agent and Jake Long.
On one hand, Jake Long presents positive leadership on the offense as a whole. Whether he is the cornerstone piece of the Miami Dolphins as Richmond Webb was during the Marino years, it remains to be seen what is future holds and if it is even synonymous with Canton, Ohio. The biggest question now, is whether Long can stay healthy and be productive into the post season, which Miami hopes to be a part of in the future.
Going back to early September, the Dolphins showed how important Long is to the team. However, during one of the first team practices, he goes down in a heap after getting his leg rolled on. Then with kid gloves the Dolphins tend to him, speed up his recovery by blocking the media and rush him back onto the field, Long plays five days later in Houston with barely a limp. However, Long played poorly in key games versus superior pass rushers. When he got torn apart versus the Bills in Buffalo by Shawn Merriman, that was an alarming sign of a breakdown in technique and overall strength, something that Long got by with by expanding his massive frame.
Everything about the plan of getting every ounce out of Long worked until the Dolphins discovered the flexibility of Jonathan Martin, moving him to his natural position of left tackle and filling in for Long admirably.
So, while the Dolphins have many pressing needs on the offensive part of the ball, Jake Long does not appear to be a need, want, but merely a luxury that doesn't’t put points on the board or fans in the seats.
Bottom line, the Dolphins can’t afford to pay Jake Long what he and his agent believes they are worth and pay for other key missing pieces. It might be time to say adiós to Jake Long and re-allocate Dolphin Dollars to a different talent pool