The market for offensive tackles has been stuck in neutral for the most part during the opening week of free agency. Aside from Jermon Bushrod signing his five-year, $35.965 million deal with the Chicago Bears, not even a highly regarded right tackle has signed a deal yet. There is only one man at fault for this standstill and his name is Jake Long.
Hitting his first year of free agency since being drafted number one overall in the 2008 NFL Draft, Long figured to be a hot commodity on the open market. His home team for the past five seasons, the Miami Dolphins, decided not to place the franchise tag on him nor negotiate a long-term deal prior to free agency getting started. It turns out that they may have made the wisest decision of all in this fiasco.
Long spent the majority of three consecutive days in the city of St. Louis enduring a seven-hour physical and talking contract with the St. Louis Rams. He eventually emerged from those discussions unsigned and headed back to Miami to sit down with the Fins. This is where the rubber meets the road.
Clearly Long is not happy with the offers that he has received thus far from the two teams vying for his services in Miami and St. Louis. Given the fact that Bushrod, widely considered the closest tackle to Long’s caliber, received an average of just $7.193 million per year in his contract, the former number one overall pick in Long doesn’t like his financial outlook. His rookie deal came in the old CBA and paid him more than $11 million per season. According to sources, the massive bookend is looking for a deal with similar financial parameters.
That seems highly unlikely at this point with Long reportedly weighing offers from both the Dolphins and the Rams. Those offers are supposedly very close in dollar amounts and will in all likelihood set the tackle market into motion again. Sebastian Vollmer of the New England Patriots and Andre Smith of the Cincinnati Bengals are still waiting for the dominoes to begin falling so they can get their deals.
There doesn’t appear to be a clear frontrunner for Long at this point, but in a situation like this players, tend to lean toward familiarity which gives Miami the upper hand. Still, the Rams could really use Long and perhaps their sales pitch was enough to convince him that he should call St. Louis home. Regardless of where the behemoth chooses to play for the upcoming seasons, until he makes a decision, the rest of the tackles will remain in limbo.