October 14, 2012; Tampa, FL, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tackle Eric Winston (74) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeated the Kansas City Chiefs 38-10. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Now That He's 'Long' Gone

Sep 9, 2012; Houston, TX, USA; Miami Dolphins tackle Jonathan Martin (71) during the game against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium. The Texans defeated the Dolphins 30-10. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports

Last night, former Miami Dolphins number one overall pick and starting left tackle, Jake Long, signed a contract to play for Jeff Fisher and the St. Louis Rams. The deal which will span over four years is worth around $36 million, with approximately $12 million guaranteed. As much as I am a fan of Jake Long, I am glad this headache of a decision has finally been put to rest. For the past few days, talks of whether or not Long will return to Miami or accept a contract to play for the St. Louis Rams as their new starting left tackle, has dominated Miami Dolphin news. With the decision finally made, the Dolphins can now move on and continue their off-season rebuilding process.

As much as I hate that Long is now officially gone, I think it is imperative that the Dolphins get over their Pro Bowl left tackle fast. With the draft and mini-camp quickly approaching, they must have their eyes set on next season and what the team will look like. There should be no excuse as to why Long will not be replaced.

Long’s projected predecessor is Jonathan Martin. Martin, who was drafted in the second round of the 2012 NFL Draft by the Miami Dolphins, started a majority of his games last season at right tackle, before being switched to left tackle to cover for an injured Long. Although he showed some flashes of potential, he also had a knack of making a lot of mistakes. One play that I will never forget is when the Dolphins took on the San Francisco 49’ers in week 14 loss on the road. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill went to drop back in the pocket. It wasn’t long before Niners linebacker Aldon Smith brought him down for a sack. In one of the most embarrassing things I’ve seen in a NFL game, Jonathan Martin was thrown to the ground almost immediately, as Aldon Smith bull rushed right through him.

Now before anyone says anything, I know that Jonathan Martin was only playing his 14th game in his NFL career, and that Aldon Smith is arguably the best pass rusher in the league. With that being said, I still think that it is quite scary to see the man that will now protect our hopefully “Franchise” quarterback’s blindside. The pressure is on Martin this season to get bigger, stronger, and more physically prepared.

Even though the predecessor is already in place, the Miami Dolphins should still be on the look-out for another tackle. With free agency still going strong and the draft being filled with offensive line talent, the Dolphins will most likely look to add another one. There are a couple of good options still left in the market such as, Eric Winston and Bryant McKinnie who both played their college football at the University of Miami and there are tons of second draft day potential at the position. Now, whether or not the Dolphins go for experience or youth at the position has still yet to be determined.

It is no secret that next to secondary, offensive line is currently Miami’s biggest need. I believe that Miami will go out and sign an experienced player at the position and possibly draft one in the middle of the draft. It is never a bad thing to have a lot of depth, especially at a position of need. No matter what happens, with Long being ‘Long’ gone, it is time to move on and continue to look towards the future of this Miami Dolphins football team, which I will say without bias, has tons of talent on this team and can be a very strong team in contention for a playoff spot.

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