Early in free agency it seemed Jake Long to the St. Louis Rams was nearly a done deal, but now his former team appears to have rallied near the finish line. The four-time Pro Bowler served as the Miami Dolphins‘ starting left tackle since they drafted him out of Michigan in 2008, that is up until his $11 million-per-year contract request led to the ‘Fins letting him walk.
Per NFL.com, “Long has a contract in hand from the Rams, while the Dolphins have made it clear how far they’re willing to go to financially to retain Long, according to team sources. NFL.com’s Jeff Darlington reported Saturday that the offers from the Rams and Dolphins are very similar in terms of total worth.”
Long seeks to be paid among the league’s elite left tackles. The 6-7 behemoth certainly earned that kind of monetary compensation in 2010 when he was named first-team All-Pro, but has since suffered an injury-plagued decline. Pro Football Focus graded Long as the 46th-ranked tackle in 2012, falling from 21st in 2011 and second in 2010.
Miami certainly enters 2013 concerned with protecting its franchise quarterback in second-year starter Ryan Tannehill. While he possesses the size to take hits and also excellent mobility — having played wide receiver for a time at Texas A&M — it would be wise to provide him with quality offensive line bookends.
The Dolphins attempted to do just that with the 42nd overall pick in the 2012 draft and hope Jonathan Martin develops into a quality right tackle. However, the growing pains wreaked havoc in his rookie year as he was graded as the 76th-ranked tackle among 80 qualifying tackle by PFF, among those who played at least 25 percent of team’s snaps.