Dec 2, 2012; Miami, FL, USA; Miami Dolphins tackle Jake Long (77) is introduced before a game against the New England Patriots at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
When the Miami Dolphins drafted Jake Long first overall during the 2008 NFL Draft they had hopes that he would turn into a franchise left tackle. The Dolphins passed up on players such as Matt Ryan, Darren McFadden, and Chris Long. The pressure was on for Jake to succeed. Many questioned the Dolphins decision to draft a left tackle over a possible franchise quarterback in Matt Ryan; however, the Dolphins front office was beyond confident in Jake’s abilities to play at a very high level. It didn’t take long for the Dolphin nation to realize that Long was going to be a dominant force in the National Football League for years to come. Ever since coming into the league, Long has been one of the best offensive lineman in the game. Game after game you would see Jake make big play after big play. His dominance towards defenders earned him a spot in the Pro Bowl during his first four years in the league.
Coming into this season the Dolphins turned to Long to play at the highest level he could. With him entering the final year of his contract and rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill coming in, the pressure was yet again turned up a few notches for Jake. Unfortunately, this time he didn’t perform as well under the pressure. It was obvious that something was wrong with Jake this year. He wasn’t his usual self and for many people that is a concerning thing. Normally you would see him taking on and dominating the best of the best when it came to defensive ends and linebackers; however, this year it was different. Time and time again he would allow big sacks on Tannehill. I always look back to when the Dolphins played the Colts earlier this year in Indianapolis. At one point in the game, Colts outside linebacker Dwight Freeney easily spun right by Jake Long and then clobbered Ryan Tannehill, forcing a fumble.
Another problem with Long is his health. Last season Long was forced to miss multiple games due to injury. This year, Long was injured yet again and was forced to miss more games than he did last year, after being placed on the Injured Reserve.
With Jake’s contract now being expired, you have to wonder if Jeff Ireland and the rest of the Dolphins front office want to resign him. In my opinion I do not believe franchising him is a reasonable option. Left tackles, behind quarterbacks are one of the highest paid positions in the NFL and if they were to franchise Long, the price would not be cheap. This past year, Long made a pricey 12.8 million dollars and if he is franchised, the price would be even higher for a player that has shown a decline in his play along with suffering injuries during the past two years. Although Long has been one of the Dolphins best players over the past four years, I believe that the Dolphins should move on from Long, unless they can get him for the correct price. Coming into free agency and the draft, there is a plethora of good offensive line talent. Players such as Ryan Clady, Sebastian Vollmer will be free agents, while college lineman such as Luke Joeckel and Eric Fisher are projected to be first round picks. There are plenty of other options instead of Jake Long and as much as I hate to say this, I believe it is time to move in a different direction and draft either Luke Joeckel or Eric Fisher and continue to build towards the future.
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