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Jake Long done for the year: What now?

Jake Long's left triceps injury suffered Sunday against the New England Patriots means he's done for the 2012 season. The Dolphins placed Long on the injured reserve list today, effectively ending his season.

The Dolphins have signed offensive tackle Patrick Brown and safety Tyrone Culver, on the team the past three seasons, was also re-signed. Defensive back Andreson Russell was also cut.

And the moves as they pertain to Long create all sorts of questions for the Dolphins.

In the short-term the Dolphins must figure out how to replace Long and how to replace the man who is replacing Long. Rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin moved from his starting right tackle to left tackle on Sunday and played well enough.

"I was making mistakes I hadn't made since high school, but that can be cleaned up," Martin said.

Indeed, filling the void at left tackle might not be a huge deal. Martin played left tackle at Stanford and was a solid LT prospect when he was drafted by the Dolphins in the second round. But the move creates something of a hole at right tackle.

The Dolphins on Sunday used Nate Garner to fill in at right tackle. But the team might also consider moving John Jerry to right tackle -- a position he played last year -- and filling in at right guard with Garner or someone else. (The latter is a less likely possibility because all the shuffling would put new starters at three positions rather than just two).

The interesting thing about this is it comes in a week the Dolphins face one of the top defensive fronts in the NFL so anything Miami does to fill the void left by Long's injury will be severely tested this weekend by the San Francisco 49ers.

Those are the short-term issues. The long-term issues are more problematic. And intriguing.

Long, you see, is unsigned after this season. So the Dolphins must decide what to do about a formerly elite left tackle who is not playing at that high level anymore and, indeed, seems to be steadily but surely breaking down as the years pass.

Do the Dolphins re-sign him to a long-term deal?

Do the Dolphins place the franchise tag on him for one year?

Do the allow Jake Long to simply walk away in free agency?

A highly-placed team source texted me Monday and said "all options available" and on the table to the team. There has been no decision to sign or not sign, franchise or not franchise Long at this moment. All options are open and the Dolphins will consider all of them. None have been eliminated at this point.

So let's go through them.

The franchise option: It would cost over $15 million to put the tag on Jake Long. He is obviously not worth it, not at his current level of play and recent injury history.

So why is this an option?

Franchising Long keeps him in Miami for at least one year. It basically rents him rather than buys him or allows him to leave. That means the Dolphins, a team that already has numerous holes on the roster, do not have to worry about filling another hole -- be it at left tackle or right tackle if Martin is moved to left tackle.

Also, Miami can afford it. If the Dolphins do not franchise Long and carry over their unused salary cap room, they will have over $40 million in cap space for 2013. That is a ton of cap room even for a team with 19 unsigned free agents. The projected cap figure is according to former NFL agent and National Football Post cap expert Joel Corry. Follow Joel on twitter (@corryjoel).

If the Dolphins franchise Long, they would have $25 million in salary cap space for 2013. That also is a lot of space.

Now, you might think of the $40 million number as Christmas because you envision signing Mike Wallace and Dwayne Bowe and Greg Jennings and then re-signing Brian Hartline and doing three or four other things. Stop. You know the Dolphins are not going to go nuts in free agency. They will add players. They're not adding a high-priced All-Star team. The philosophy Joe Philbin abides by is improving through the draft. General Manager Jeff Ireland would have to run directly counter to that to sign the All-Star team. And I'm not even sure Ireland believes in building a team through free agency.

The point is franchising Long -- regardless of what you think of the idea -- remains a possibility the Dolphins will weigh.

How about re-signing him to a long-term deal?

Well, Long is 27 years old. And he is established here in South Florida. He is a leader in the locker room. He's still a solid player even though he is no longer elite. He has value. He isn't a piece of scrap.

So it might be wise to offer him a bargain long-term deal. That is defined as something in the $6 million a year range. Yes, that would mean Long would have to take a nearly 50 percent pay cut. But it would also give him security for the next several years while also giving the Dolphins comfort about having Long for a while longer despite his recent injury history.

What seems totally out of the realm of possibility is the Dolphins signing Long to a record long-term deal. They did that once already when he was drafted No. 1 and immediately became the NFL's highest paid offensive lineman ever. And, as you see, Long is crawling to the end of that contract barely healthy.

Miami will not commit that mistake with a player showing signs of decline. (If they do, someone needs to be fired).

Long would certainly like this option. But the Dolphins would look foolish doing this if Long continues his decline and cannot even make it to the end of the deal. The Dolphins made this mistake with Vernon Carey and it didn't work out well.

The Dolphins could also let Long walk. There is precedence for letting the former No. 1 overall pick simply walk away once his rookie deal expires. The Houston Texans did exactly that in 2012. They survived quite well.

But the Dolphins don't have Houston's depth. The fact is letting Long walk creates a need in the draft or free agency. We shall see in the coming four weeks where that hole would be. If Martin plays well in that span, then the void won't be at left tackle.

Indeed, if Martin plays well, I'd say the chances of Long being back next season would be very small because it's much easier finding a right tackle than a left tackle. In many way, Martin has Long's future in his hands.

But what if Martin flubs? What if he shows he's probably not ready or suited to be an NFL left tackle? 

Do you still let Long go? Do you have faith, trust in confidence in your personnel department to the point you believe you can find a new left tackle in the draft or free agency? Decent LTs are not easy to find. So you're going to let one walk?

The next few weeks will give us clues. As for Sunday, that Long injury that ended his season accomplihed only one thing:

As a Dolphins source told me, "it didn't help" matters at all."

Comments

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Great entry, Armando. I read it whole. Thankyou.

If martin plays well I agree that Long is gone. Or maybe he will sign for 6-7 million/year for 3 years.

Nahh, YG, I can't take Losing. It's against my Nature and self-Nurturing.

I think Martin will be fine at LT and that means letting Long go. Enough the man crush on LT's. You can do just fine without one of the top guys at that position. What we need is offensive playmakers, as you have repeatedly indicated.

Interestingly enough, I noticed that when Reggie lined up at left wideout during the game against the Pats they had a linebacker on him. I am not the smartest person in the world, but why don't we see more of him lining up there?

See ya Long

thanks for the solid career long, wish u success wherever u go next year. glad it will save us a ton of cash

Armando,

Here's what I would do If I were gm:

I would have a long sit down with Long. I would weigh what he's done for this franchise and what he means to it. I would also weigh in the fact that injuries are beginning to take its toll on him. I would explaun how much it would mean to me if he remained a fin for life.

Then I would suggest to him how moving to RT could revive his career by not having to go against the opponent's premium pass rusher each week.

Yes im suggesting flip-flopping Martin and Long. In this scenario, Martin repalces Long at LT, Long's at RT, and jake signs a fairly cheaper RT contract over the more expensive LT contract.

This way we save money and possibly still keep Long as a dolphin until he retires. He doesnt walk for nothing either.

But, but, I said that 2 weeks ago, Flipper.

Heck, we can even try moving Long to one of the guard spots. Long can pull.

Ireland just needs to have the sit down heart to heart with Long hoping he would be agreeable to a change of position along the oline. RT or 1 of the guard spots.

But to get Long to do this Ireland needs to approach him with a ton of respect, not ego.

oscar,

If you said that 2 days ago, then great idea man!

2 weeks ago

I think we need to see a LOT more of Martin before we annoint him our new LT. Let's see how he does Sunday against Justin Smith and Aldon Smith. Going to be a great test for him.

Armando Great article,it covers all the possibilities available to the Dolphins..very intriguing situation with Jake Long

Time to move on new line will be Jon Martin incognito pouncy mike golic jr John Jerry how does that sound for 2013 pretty solid huh or maybe samuda at guard

I guess I saw this coming, Flipper(the Long affair). Sometimes, I am that way.

Man things happen for a reason and we can really use all this cap money to retain hartline Sean smith and continue building this team the right way

Long at guard, YG? Intriguing....

It's going to be ok Oscar

Your boy Ireland was mental masterbating himself into thinking the Colts would be 4-12 at best. Wont be the first time something backfired on Ireland, now will it?
Posted by: Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | December 03, 2012 at 09:07 PM
All this "EXPERTISE" from the guy that said SpOrano would be the most sought after Head Coach around-lol!
Bhwaaaaaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaaaaa Haaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!
Yep, we put a lot of stock in your FINE opinions.....LOL.
Posted by: odinseye | December 03, 2012 at 11:27 PM

I remember rhis post from YG, I LMAO over it.
This could be POST OF THE YEAR.IMHO.
YG/FB/DB, What say you?

Jake was a mistake we never should have picked him that was all tuna

CraigM,

Martin played entirely his entire career at LT for Stanford. He protected the blindside for the franchise(Luck) for at least 3yrs. I believe Martin will be fine.

A top 3 LT? That may be debateble. But as far as locking down the position for years to come? I think its very highly possible.

I can even envision Martin, Long(LG) and Pouncey on one side. While Incognito moves to RG and Jerry to LT. Incognoto can help Jerry on that side because he's so used to working so closely with Long.

Great Post Mando.

With Long. Dashi Says Take The Soliai Approach! Franchise!

NICE TO HEAR SOMEBODY IN THE KNOW! SAY WHAT PHILBIN AND IRELAND HAVE SAID ALL YEAR!

WE ARE BUILDING THRU THE DRAFT!(U Are GOING TO HAVE TO REPEAT THAT FOR THE MORONS AND CANTBE FANATICS!)

So The Dashi/YG Theory is NOT THAT FAR OFF!! We NEED BETTER DRAFT PICKS!! And How Do U Accomplish This?

EVEN IF IT IS TO TRADE DOWN!! A TOP 5 PICK HAS MORE VALUE THAN A TOP 10!

Oscar,

I would much rather see Long accept a change of position than walk for nothing. Change of position also effects rate of pay.

I believe Ireland can pull it off if he goes to Long this offseason talking with tons of respect.

Why are you such a hater man Jeff Ireland is a super scout don't you know that he is very respected around the league look around the nfl there are former dolphins on every team

This way we save money and possibly still keep Long as a dolphin until he retires. He doesnt walk for nothing either.

Yesterday's Gone 4Ever! | December 04, 2012 at 07:16 PM

This scenario isn't bad but you better have a good alternative on the bench because Long hasn't gone a full Season without injury in sometime now. I believe as much as Martin's play will dictate what happens it will also be interesting to see how our OL Coach and Sherman feel about their former Tackles (Joekel and Matthews) at Tex A&M. I believe RT Matthews like Martin last Yr. will be in RD-2 and runs a 4.8/40 at 6'6"/305 pds a big athletic kid who when you see reminds of Pats LT Solder who played on RT last Season.

Agreed, YG.

Tennehill at least wont be killed by a blindside shot at least, I can think of 8 times this season where he was hit from the blindside and I've only watch 4 of there games.

Great job Today, Armando. Here, some Jimmy Smith just for you.

Actually this next game probably decides if long stays or not. If martin can hold up against san fran I say they let jake walk.Other teams would pay jake big money based on name alone.Take the comp pick and draft another tackle.

Bob Kuechenberg at one point or the other play every position on the oline. Thats after being all pro at the guard position.

You can get players to do different things if you approacxh them with tons of respect. Do you hear that Mr. Ireland?

Philbin can do this he has done it before remember the packers it just take a little time we are on the right track here

Go dolphins

big fan i see fp4

YG,

There's a big jump from College to the pros when it comes to LT. Just ask guys like Jason Smith of the Rams, taken number in the draft a few years ago. I like Martin but it's difficult to say if he can be our LT for the next 5-7 years. Let's watch and see.

Pe'o For Te'o!!! The Future is At Stake!!

How Many Of U would've Been Happier If The Fins Would've Been 4-12 and Not 6-10! The Fins Would've Picked 4th, Not 8! This Year!

Publicado por: Dashi | December 04, 2012 at 07:21 PM

Very creative and agree BIG PEO for Te'o!

..What would be an acceptable pay rate for Long should he decide to stay in Miami, and if Martin can hold his own. Make a move to the right side of the line??(BTW..Great idea)

As far as Martin goes. This week is going to be a huge test for him. He is going to need some help. I would say it would be fair to wait and guage his play over the 4 games and try not to get to excited should he struggle this week. A lot of established tackles struggle against the Niners.

Wow - this is the first time in...well I can't remember how long, that I actually read a complete article written by Armando. I had forgotten that he could actually write an objective article without completely bashing the Dolphins.

I believe Alabama will crush ND including Pe'o.

IMO, Aldon Smith is the most dominant pass rusher in the League at least at this moment. It just so happens that Jonathan Martin has to defend against him this week.

The part I'm not getting is why would Long agree to such a move? So the Dolphins don't think he's a $15 million LT? Guaranteed somebody values him and spends the money on the guy. He's a hard worker, a good teamate and plays through injuries. There are lots of teams in the league who could use a LT. No reason Long has to agree to switch to the right side. For what? Why should he be loyal to the Dolphins? They'll come to an arrangement that works for Long or he'll take his game somewhere else. I'm not ready to write this guy off. Sounds like a lot of the fanbase is, so what? Hope it works out for the guy. He's been a good pro to this point.

I would pay close attention to the 49er DE Justin Smith,,,, If Martin can at least keep Smith from killing HenneHill then Long will be a forgotten man .. Personally I believe Long is damaged good, is better to draft the OT Matthew player from Texas A&M and start with a player who is younger and healthier..I hope Ireland move up and Draft Manti Te'o - LB, Notre Dame

THIS IS CERTAINLY NOT BAD NEWS JAKE HAS BEEN THE WORST O-LINEMAN ON THE TEAM PRETTY MUCH THE WHOLE YEAR. HE IS WITHOUT QUESTION THE WEAK LINK ON THE LINE AND A CHANGE MIGHT BRING PROMISE BEFORE NEXT YEAR. NOT ONLY SHOULD THEY NOT USE THE FRANCHISE TAG ON HIM NEXT YEAR A CONTRACT WORTH 1.5 MILLION WOULD BE UPSURD FOR HIS CALIBER OF PLAY

If the FO considers that Long is not worth it at that price at LT anymore and he doesn't want to take a cut in pay and maybe change positions, then he's welcomed to go other places.

big fan i see fp4
Posted by: bill connors | December 04, 2012 at 07:44 PM

Sorry Bill, Some of us work on Sundays.

O yea Bill, I'll be at sundays game this sunday(I live in San Jose).

I think many of us are missing the point....Long is broken! We must move on WITHOUT him at any position.
Yes it is sad but with a ton of cash space any many draft picks the timing could not have been any better.

They are going to blitz the hell out of Us, with Aldon Smith(6-4, 260 lbs). However, Martin is young and very agile, he might be able to contain him. That other Smith, yes, might come into play then. Yes.

For next year, Jonathan has to get stronger WITHOUT any increase in his weight. Is that possible?

It's too bad that Long is having injury issues. I don't wish that on anyone.

Long's play has declined for two seasons and one has to take that into consideration from a football standpoint, especially when so much cap space is being committed to a single position other than QB.

The Dolphins do need to build through the draft, but they would be wise to try to find a copule of elite players among the positions of WR, TE, DE, or CB in free agency. They simply have far too many shortcomings as a team to address all the needs in the draft.

Long should have been traded last season when he would probably have fetched a first round pick in the 2012 draft.

The Dolphins probably need ten new impact players to start winning. The scary part is that one of those players may be a QB.

I would say fair enough to gauging Smith's future promise by his play these final 4 games. He will face some pretty good pass rushers. If he passes, I trust him moving forward.

If not, we better consider using the 1st rd'er on a LT if the plan isnt moving forward with Long.

Our offseason plan is worrying about a banged up LT as opposed to athletic, game changers.

If this team does not sign "all-stars" this offseason. Sun Life will be empty 4sure next year.

we will not go nowhere as long ireland the GM!

Tannehill will be ok, he's a Football Player. He's just inexperienced at the QB position.

Sigh,

Last year we didnt have J-Mart. You dont get rid of Long until 100% seeing you have him replaced. Or you could end up with a Mark Columbo at LT too.

Again, and I brought this point up yesterday, Long's an asset. Now we can debate all night what his value is but he's still an asset. You let him walk away, you have to fill the spot, likely through the draft, with no guarantees that he works out. Guys want to belly ache that we NEVER draft playmakers and yet these are the same guys that want to give up assets for nothing. Fair enough guys but if you keep making holes you have to fill them somehow.

Blog poll:

Does anyone believe that Tannehill is going to be better than Luck or RGIII in two years?

YGFE,

That's true about not having Martin last year. My thinking was during the winless start, Long should have been traded before the trade deadline. In other words, part of a Suck for Luck season. Of course, I should have mentioned the details in my original post.

It's funny....we have these conversations now. NEVER works out that way. We'll be watching Jake Long and whatever team he's playing for going to the playoffs, year after. And then all the guys who wanted him gone will say 'I can't believe what a loser organization we are. We always let our best players get away'. the same guys who said that it was a good move AT THE TIME to get a second round pick for Wes Welker, are always the guys who blast the move now. Just watch....

No, not better, Sigh, the =.

CraigM,

Thats exactly why I say Ireland has to treat Long with respect and dignity. Then long maybe open to taking a paycut due to change of position or continue playing LT at that paycut.

But if Long's made to feel disrepected by Ireland in the least bit, Then all bets are off. Long walks for nothing. Ireland needs to be extremeely cautious in how he handles the Long situation.

No he doesnt seem like vintage Jake Long, but after investing the 1st overrall pick in him. I would hate seeing him leave for nothing. Or overpaying for him.

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