It’s not a popular idea, trading Miami Dolphins‘ perennial Pro-Bowl left tackle Jake Long. In fact, it’s probably something that the Miami Dolphins themselves have given zero thought to. That doesn’t however mean the move wouldn’t be a smart one. In fact, it may be an option for a team that has too many holes elsewhere and out of position in the draft to take a premier blue-chip QB.
First of all, I like Jake Long. A lot. Love his old school style of play. He plays injured and he plays hard. Recently however, it’s apparent that something is not right and perhaps his body is breaking down from the abuse he is taking and the “play through injuries at all cost” attitude is catching up. Two weeks ago, Long missed his first NFL start with a back injury, a week later he started against the Patriots only to tear a bicep in the first quarter. It’s the latter injury that will likely sideline him for week 17.
The good news is the injury isn’t something that will keep him out of training camp next season or most of the off season workouts. For that matter, it would not be something that would keep an interested party out of trade talks. If of course his name was floated around for such a purpose.
I realize that finding legitimate LT’s in the NFL is hard, but so is finding a winning formula at the QB position. In fact, I would argue that it is far more difficult to find a QB than any other position on the team. Jake Long brings a lot to the team but there is reason for concern especially given his recent bouts with injury. Further complicating the situation is the new contract that Long will be given following next season.
Long will become an unrestricted free agent following the 2012 season which means his value in a trade is as high as it will be.
Jake Long is a future Hall of Fame left tackle, but the Dolphins need more. They need either draft picks or the ability to move up and grab a starting QB for their future. Trading Jake Long will give them that opportunity or at least put them in a better position to get a high end QB. Of course I am referring to a move up to number 1 to get Andrew Luck.
The Dolphins currently are drafting between five and ten depending on how next weeks games play out and the first pick will belong either to St. Louis or front running Indianapolis. If the Colts win and the Rams lose, the Rams have the top pick. A loss by the Rams or a loss by the Colts and the Colts have it. If the pick does go on the trade block at least three and as many as four teams may be in play to move up to the top spot.
Even if the Dolphins don’t make a run at the top pick in the draft, trading Jake Long could help the team in other areas. Long should get the team a second first round pick and while it’s difficult to watch a Pro-Bowler leave and worse if he becomes a Hall of Fame lineman, the reality is this team needs to win and they should keep all of their options open. In fact, no one on this years roster should be exempt from trade consideration. No one.
The Dolphins are a team in major flux right now. The fan base is up in arms over the dismal play over the last decade let alone the last four years. They want and expect a winning product on the field and thus far they haven’t got it. Ticket sales are understandably low and season ticket renewals are at an all-time low and continue to drop. Stephen Ross is about to make his first real move to get this team moving forward as he decides on the teams next head coach. That head coach needs pieces in place and having a young QB to groom is a good place to start.
Obviously the downside to having a rookie QB is that he needs his blindside protected so naturally the question would be, how to do you let a talent like Long go? It’s obviously a tough decision and the price would need to be right. With the money that Long is expected to demand following next season, upwards of 50 to 60 million with at minimum 30 to 40 guaranteed, the Dolphins could step away from the high end money and save some cap space that would allow them to address other needs as well.
I realize that this is not a popular opinion. Jake Long is an anchor along the offensive line and for years we have struggled to find someone who could adequately hold down the left side, even now as we look at trying to fix the right side. If the price is right however, I make the move. It should better the team from the compensation. If the price is not right, then you leave him there and give him what he will want. The point is, he is an option and that is something the Dolphins have very little of.
Note: This article was written last night and time posted for this morning, in no way, shape, or form, was it derived from anything that was published earlier this morning on the Miami Herald. Any relation to that article is strictly coincidental.