Would you trade left tackle Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams for a first round draft pick next season? Would you trade him to any needy team for a first round draft pick? The Dolphins will have to decide if Jake Long is worth the price he will command on his next contract. They will have to determine that very very soon.
Long is entering the final year of his rookie contract after voiding a sixth season that was reached on incentives. It has been reported that Long wants to become the richest left tackle in the league and whether it’s the Miami Dolphins or someone else, he will be. Last season Cleveland Browns left tackle Joe Thomas received a huge 50 million dollar plus deal with over 30 million guaranteed if memory serves. At minimum that is what you can expect for Jake Long.
While Long is a great left tackle and a blindside protector for the QB, has any left tackle in the history of the NFL been the catalyst to taking a team to the Super Bowl? Of course not. Sure, a left tackle and a very good left tackle is exceptionally valuable, the team is what takes a team to the Super Bowl.
Long’s contract won’t likely be team prohibitive in the near future but if the Dolphins want to add key components to their team, the salary cap structure must continually be shaped so that each year the team is not cutting or restructuring salaries to comply. Of course while Long is as stated an “exceptional” left tackle, it’s important to know that he is also injury prone of late.
Long’s injury concerns are valid and despite the fact that he is bull headed enough to play through the injuries, the lasting effect of that decision can lead to serious issues long term and put the Dolphins investment in jeopardy. Rumors are circulating now that the team and Long’s agents are taking a preliminary look at what a new contract may look like, and while we are likely a ways away from seeing that new deal, it shouldn’t be left out as a possibility that Long could find himself playing elsewhere if those numbers get out of control.
While I’m not advocating a trade of Long, I am saying that we all shouldn’t be closed minded to the prospect of doing so. In other words, if your in the market for a new Miami Dolphins jersey, I’d hold off until the contract is done.
It should be noted the Miami Dolphins appear, at least on the surface to be taking a Green Bay approach to the team where keeping your football players who perform is more important than adding players from free agency and then using the draft to build your team from within. This approach, if true, should be an indication that the Dolphins will attempt to keep Long, Cameron Wake, and Brian Hartline as well. Three rumored players to already be discussing deals with Jeff Ireland.