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Facts, opinion on Long's 'complicated' negotiation

The Dolphins and Jake Long have been talking about a new contract on and off for nearly five months now. And while the talks started out as a straight contract extension and morphed into a lull in talks, the sides now are seriously considering what a break from one another really means and whether that is truly what everyone wants.

For the Dolphins, keeping and losing Long is an impactful decision on various levels.

If the team keeps Long, it feels it must happen at a salary that addresses what Long is today rather than what he was as a rookie when he came to the team as the first overall draft pick of 2008. What he is today is a hard working, solid, experienced player, who also has been diminished by injuries and is no longer elite but is still a good player to have.

"I think Jake can still play in this league for sure," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said Tuesday.

Ireland said this in response to a question whether Long is elite anymore. If Ireland thinks Long is elite, then the Dolphins are in trouble because the general manager isn't properly grading his own left tackle. (And if you can't grade your own players, how in the world can you evaluate players that you're scouting?)

My sense, however, is Ireland doesn't believe Long is elite. Thankfully. And that is what is making the negotiations difficult.

If Long was elite, the Dolphins would simply shrug shoulders and offer to pay him like he is elite. That would make Long one of the highest-paid left tackles in the business and probably the highest paid as he has been the past five seasons.

But Long is no longer the best LT in the business. He isn't the best LT in his conference. He's isn't the best LT in his division. He's like ... third in his division.

And what that means is if the Dolphins want to pay value for Long they cannot continue to pay the $11.2 million per season Long made in 2012, for example. Nope, that's way overpaying. That's highway robbery, actually, when one considers the top tackles are making around $8 million per season on average.

The Dolphins also have to understand that Long seems headed in the wrong direction devlopmentally. He's going to be 28 in May and should be right in the prime of his career, but instead he played worse last season than the season before. And again, he tore a triceps muscle (significant injury that often haunts) and finished the season on injured reserve. It was the second consecutive season he finished the season on injured reserve with an arm injury. And those injuries are numbered among the multiple injuries he's battled in recent years that have seemingly played a role in his decline.

So the team has to guard against paying a steep price for a player that is declining and showing signs of falling apart.

Balance that against the idea that Long, when healthy, is still solid. He's doesn't suck. He's good. He's not as great as he once was, but he's still good. And letting good players walk is painful, particularly when the team has so many other holes it needs to address.

Letting Long walk creates another hole. Maybe the hole isn't at left tackle where Jonathan Martin proved during the final month of the season he can play. But it definitely creates a void at right tackle, which is the position Martin manned before he moved to the left side.

So those are all issues the Dolphins are weighing.

Long's issues?

He'd love to stay in Miami. He'd love to be an all-timer who spends his entire career with one team. He and his wife love it in South Florida. But ...

He wants to get paid. His agent wants to get paid. Someone out there in free agency is likely to pay him.

And then there's ego.

Long, a stoic team guy publicly, apparently has a sizeable ego.

"He's one of those guys that likes the idea of being the best at what he does and one way he proves to everyone that he is is by being the highest paid at what he does," one Dolphins source told me recently. "Yeah, there's a considerable amount of professional ego there."

And that's where we encounter a problem because the truth of the matter is Long needs to take a pay cut to be a value to the Dolphins. He needs to take a pay cut to come into line with the current market for left tackles. But his ego might hinder him from accepting that cut in Miami. His ego might demand he go out on the market and test how much love he gets because, he's convinced, lots of teams want the best left tackle in football on their roster.

And even if those teams aren't going to pay tons more than the Dolphins, sometimes getting that warm embrace from a new team feels better than getting a warm embrace from the current team that also had misgivings about you in contract talks.

Oh yes, the Dolphins have their misgivings about Long. They made that clear, I'm told by a source, in that an offer they made to Long during the season was considered by the Long camp as something of a low-ball attempt to re-sign him.

So this ongoing negotiation is delictate. It's so delicate, Ireland doesn't even want to admit Long isn't elite anymore -- perhaps for fear that will offend or tip the balance of the talks in some way.

"Well I’m not going to tell you whether I think he is elite because I’m still in a contract negotiation," Ireland said. "We certainly take, and I’ve had a good conversation with Jake when he exited the building, in fact I’ve talked to him a lot because he has been in the training room, but Jake has a decision to make and we have a decision to make.

"It’s a very, very difficult decision and it’s a very complicated negotiation, so we’ll have to see how things go."

OK, so those are the facts. That's the anatomy of the delicate negotiation for your information. Store that.

Now ... you want my opinion? If not, you're done. Go to the comments section and discuss playmakers like we all like to do ad infinatum.

If you want my opinion read on:

***************************************

Jake Long needs to grow up. And the Dolphins need to grow a pair. That's the only way this is going to resolve itself for the good of the team. And that's all I care about -- the good of the team.

Long needs to check into reality. He's made nearly $60 million from the Dolphins the past five seasons and he hasn't exactly delivered $60 million worth of production. Oh, he was well worth it his first two or even three years. But the last two?

Overpaid.

So he needs to understand he is not worth $10 or $11 million a year. That simply is not the market. He's not even worth $8 million a year, frankly. He needs to understand that the team signing him to a four-year deal is risking a ton of money because he's lately shown few signs he might last to the end of that contract.

Tony Boselli -- the player I closely link with Long based on ability and career arc -- started breaking down in his fourth year with the Jacksonville Jaguars. By his seventh season he was effectly done. He played from 1995, when was the NFL's elite left tackle, to 2001. In 2002 the Jacksonville Jaguars, eager to get him off their books, offered him up in the expansion draft to Houston. Boselli retired instead.

I'm not sure Long will be playing four years from now -- not with his recent rate of injuries and decline.

Long has to understand the Dolphins must worry about that. So if he truly wants to stay in Miami and isn't, in fact, about the money, he needs to sign a realistic contract that addresses the concerns he raises.

Otherwise, walk my brother. But don't for one second consider yourself a team guy. You're a lot about money.

The Dolphins?

Yes, they have multiple holes. Yes, letting Long walk creates another hole. But signing a player that is headed toward a bad finish, knowing that he's headed toward that bad finish, is personnel department malpractice.

It's like signing Justin Smiley, who has suffered multiple shoulder injuries, to a big contract and then being surprised when he suffers more shoulder injuries and can't reach the end of his contract. It's like signing Jake Grove, who spent approximately one-third of his Oakland days on the sidelines injured, to a big free agent contract and then being surprised when Grove is injured in Miami and cannot play to the end of his contract.

The Dolphins made those predictable mistakes that were pointed out before those players played one down for Miami. So it wasn't second-guessing. And the Dolphins got bit in the behind by those signings exactly as predicted.

And now they're going to make exactly the same mistake? And worse, they're going to make it with a player they know intimately? And they're going to make it at a higher level because Long would be much more expensive than either Smiley or Grove?

Are they nuts?

Look, sometimes teams have to let good players walk. The Steelers are likely about to let Mike Wallace walk (hey, receivers talk!). The Indianapolis Colts let Pierre Garcon and Peyton Manning walk last year. The Arizona Cardinals let Karlos Dansby walk. The Texans did just fine after allowing Mario Williams to walk.

You know what? It's not the end of the world.

The Dolphins cannot afford -- or they should realize they cannot afford -- to continue paying offensive linemen as if they are game-changers. They are not. They do not score TDs. They do not win games. The Dolphins were mediocre with Long. They were mediocre after Long was injured. The team did not collapse.

Miami's record without Long as the starting LT? 

4-2. 

Yes, the team should try to re-sign Long. But it should be a deal that won't hamstring Miami's ability to add playmakers. It should be a deal that doesn't extend beyond four years for reasons stated above. It should be a deal that takes into account that the NFL's best LTs are making far less rather than more than what Long made last year.

And if they explain it that way to Long, hopefully he relents. And if he doesn't, you lost a player that was mostly thinking about money after making truckloads in his rookie deal. You lost a player that can be replaced.

Move on.

Comments

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Armando,

Great opinions. Mine are pretty much the exact same. Football's a business, not a handholding, Hallmark card exchanging lovefest. If all about ego and money, sayanara Jake Long. We're in a business to reach and win a SB here in Miami.

Not stroking Mr' Long's overinflated ego!

I would like to see him stay but at reduced salary. I have three cups and a bowl.

To be fair to Mr. Boselli I think he gave it a go in Houston and his shoulder wouldn't function so THEN he retired. He wanted to play.

Perhaps the best perspective on Long I have read in awhile.

This is why Miami should make sure we resign Reggie Bush!! He is a game changer!! Add a deep threat, a solid number 2 with hartline and bess and wow this offense is a serious contender!!!!

armando,

very well thought out and structured opinion. I agree 100% and like you said Ireland agrees also or else we wouldn't be at this position. Happy Ireland has learned and for that reason I feel that he is a much better GM than many realize. Hope he lets him walk

Excellent argument, Armando. You articulated well what many of us Dolfans feel about Long. Perhaps he needs to test the free market - like P. Soliai did - to help him realize what his real value is worth, not what his inflated ego thinks it is.

Mando,

Everyone seems to be celebrating the cap space we have & the number of draft picks BUT let's fact the reality here--this team has TWO playmakers that are under contract & even more holes to fill than last year. There's Wake & Reshad Jones who emerged this year.

I think it's great that ireland is talking about needing 'playmakers' but can he find them??? I also think it's great that he hasn't given Jake Long & his agent a blank check to fill in the amount but at the same time--why keep Long here at all???

IMO--We're practically the same team as the Browns except they have an elite LT under contract.

I agree with you but PLEASE understand we have been changing up our line for years. THE BEST LINES IN THE NFL HAVE BEEN TOGETHER FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR. We need this part of our team to be consistant. It starts in the trenches

Armando...

good article....strong opinion....I like that....

The onlything missing (imo) is a quote or two from Long...I would really like to get a personal perspective from him or his agent....I guess Ireland and Dawn are getting plenty....

Sounds like the days of Long are numbered....and i'm not to sad about that....I would rathr he stay...but NOT @ the cost of signing PLAY-MAKERS....on "O" and "D"....

If Longs mindset is what you say it is...then they are to far apart...and Long will be playing elsewhere next season...

Jake has been a great player for us and the Dolphins treat him like shyt....

in 2014 the new gm will get manziel and with a qb like that the lt is moot.

very well thought out and structured opinion. I agree 100% and like you said Ireland agrees also or else we wouldn't be at this position. Happy Ireland has learned and for that reason I feel that he is a much better GM than many realize. Hope he lets him walk

Tony,

A much better GM than many realize??? After five seasons as GM in Miami we have TWO playmakers under contract. Not sure how you could do any worse & if you want to blame Parcells then also bear in mind that Wake & Jones were found while Parcells was still here. So in two drafts & two offseason w/o Parcells he has found ZERO playmakers.

Ireland is f#cking Matt Millen. Totally incompetent & made of teflon.

Very good article Mando!
What is fair then?
4 YEARS AT 22.5 MIL????????

Let that fat mofo go!

Armando you are totally correct with your assecement of Jake Long & I hope he reads this article & comments to tame his ego enough to sign a fair contract.

We Need Playmakers....

I don't think Ireland is made out of teflon...as much as so many of our fellow FIN fans just want to be RIGHT ("i told you so") when we do finally get this thing turned around.....

I mean can you blame them....the ODDS have to be in Ireland favor...were going into year 6...

I guess e had better hope Ireland didn't peak in 2008....

The Bears or Packers or Eagles would love to have Jake Long.

Letting Jake Long walk away is admission that it was a big mistake drafting him.

Kris,

CONTINUITY is always the key factor on the line. Earlier today I was discussing this regarding an issue at Fort Lauderdale International Airport where I work and it cocerned an item (glass) that had been misplaced by service staff and/or sanitation workers and I argued it had great intrinsic value as one component of a whole but retained little of that value removed and isolated from its familiar grouping. This can also be true of fish, game hens, etc.

Mando,

Please explain to me why fans still think Long is elite??? I'm not even sure I'm willing to say he's still 'good' after the season he had. I'd say Nate Solder is a good LT & Solder had a better season than Long. Long started the season horribly against the Texans & under normal circumstances you can just say that he had ONE bad game against JJ Watt who is an outstanding player but he was beat in subsequent games against the Raiders & the Cardinals. And what about Freeny in the Colts game??? Are you kidding me??? And in a contract year???

When we drafted him I thought he was going to be the next Richmond Webb but it just aint happening. It really doesn't matter how much we pay him b/c it's not like he's going to play any better than he did this year. Not only was Tannehill hit too many times this year but he took some vicious hits that a QB can't take if he wants to have an NFL career.

The O line with or without Long will continue to be an issue because IMO there needs to be consistency with the Running game. What I am referring to is the run blocking. The object is to open holes for the RB and that is spreading the D line, but with Bush always Dancing and trying to bounce outside brings the D linemen only closer to Bush when he tries to run to the outside and most times he doesn't make the turn but instead runs out of bounds for a minimal or no gain.

Long will be a Miami Dolphin next year for sure even if they have to franchise him. He's one of two (Wake being the other) all-pro players on the team and you don't let guys like that walk in their prime. The idea that a guy who is 27 years old is in decline is just a guess and most likely a bad guess at that. He's been hurt which is why his play has declined. When he gets healthy, and trust me he will, his play will return to an all-pro level.

A couple of thoughts ... I agree that the contract should be 4-5 years max.

I don't agree that the number $8M is entirely ludicrous. The top 2012 cap hit for tackles in the NFl was Trent Williams (? really?) at $14M. That's stupidity. however, the 5th highest is jason Peters at $7.9M and the 10th highest is Donald Penn at $6.4M. So assuming you pay him as a top 10 tackle - his cap # should be in the 6 - 8 M range. If you could work those terms (4-5 years, 6-8M), I'd do it.

I don't agree that the OT position has no value as Mando proclaims. The two teams in this super bowl have 6 linemen that were drafted in the first two rounds. Maybe Mando knows more than Ozzie Newsome or the guys who drafted those players in SF?? VERY VERY DOUBTFUL.

And lastly, how he says Martin showed he can play when he himself said Martin was a C- LT in an earlier blog clearly contradicts what he said earlier. The guy hasn't showed he can play LT yet. We need another tackle and an expensive one (in terms of draft pick or free agent contract) going into 2013 whether it's Jake Long or not.

Not sure this covered any new territory. The 2 sides are in contract talks. It's around money. Nothing's been decided as of yet.

Yeah, kind of like what we knew the day Long got injured. How's the injury doing now? Any new counter-offer from the Agent (that's been mentioned)? Like Kris said, any word from the player?

If not...NOTHING TO SEE HERE!!!

Thanks for that Robert....I'll keep that in mind...

..Armando. I echo the sentiments of the blog so far. Great piece. Well done. I have said this a few times. But it would make the decison a no brainer if Long had perfromed at the elite level we knew before injuries started to take their ugly toll. What are we gambling? People need to realize that we can't equate Longs play to what their idea of what he used to be. He has not been the same player we drafted in 2008.

Heck, we wouldnt let Matty Ice walk away if we had drafted him!!!

Very good article Mando!
What is fair then?
4 YEARS AT 22.5 MIL????????

Diggler,

Are you nuts??? Get out of here...Fair is a meatball parm from Subway & a bus pass. The guy just missed a month of the season on IR. Not sure if Long can even hold up for another full season let alone four.

This is why FA's dont want to join the Dolphins. They treat their star players like garbage. Shula never did that.

If I were Long...I would go find Sporano's unemployed @ss and ram one of my size 16s (or whatever size he wears)....staight up Sporano's backside....

That meaningless 4TH pre-season game against the Cowboys a few years back is gonna cost Jake MILLIONS....I wonder if the guy who even lined up against Long...is even in the NFL today....

Thanks Tony....

The O line with or without Long will continue to be an issue because IMO there needs to be consistency with the Running game. What I am referring to is the run blocking. The object is to open holes for the RB and that is spreading the D line, but with Bush always Dancing and trying to bounce outside brings the D linemen only closer to Bush when he tries to run to the outside and most times he doesn't make the turn but instead runs out of bounds for a minimal or no gain.

Opti/Pess,

Not sure why you think Bush will be back. He's looking for starting RB money but he's really a 3rd down back like Jacquizz Rodgers.

lol

Ross is too cheap to pay for good players. Thats just part of the reason the team stinks.

1) Jeff Fireland will say something inappropriate to alienate Long so he's leaving. That's pretty much a given.
2) Why is more time and energy being spent on Jake Long than Reggie Bush? Oh, that's right, because FIreland has no business being an NFL GM. Good times.

Bush better be back. He's the entire offense.

"This is why FA's dont want to join the Dolphins. They treat their star players like garbage. Shula never did that."

Mike,

He's not a star. That's the problem. He was a star for three seasons but you can't continue to pay a player top dollar when he can't even make it though an entire season.

BTW--I seem to recall Wake getting a big contract from the Dolphins.

Reggie Bushn had the 10th highest cap # among RBs in 2012. i'd offer him the same money- max, if not, bye...

Someone said you try to talk Long into a position change and then pay accordingly. Think maybe with his health issues moving him inside might be the better idea for him as a player and might show his family that you really do care.

Or maybe we show the man some love and say we will give you a fair amount of upfront money and make the contract insentive laden or you stretch it a year longer than you would like to, give him the fake number that he will really never get if he does not stay productive.

From what I'm reading into Irelands comments expect a lot less in new free agent signings. And expect them to stay the course on building thru the draft.

I'm guessing you are going to see a sort of fan appeasement and they will bring in Jennings and probably over pay a little. We are probably going to see CB/Fs brought in.

Then OL,Pass Rusher, WR/TE is probably going to be hot and heavy in draft. Going to be interesting to see who they resign as far as our free agents.

We Need Playmakers....

I don't think Wake's contract was "big"...as much as it was appropriate.....

I'm glad both sides worked it out...but I don't think we mad Waske one of the Top Paid Players @ his postion....but I could be wrong....

Jake Long isnt a star? Huh?

Do not want to see Bush return, but just stating about the consistency of the running game. If we are to give Tannehill weapons the running game needs to be addressed too.

"Bush better be back. He's the entire offense."

Mike,

Yeah...Nothing like a RB that's going to be 28 in March that disappeared for 8 games after he got nicked up this year.

Agree with shula71@1:54,
Give Long a contract based on incentives for performance and production, and if he plays the entire season at a high level would make decent money and if not, too bad.

Do not want to see Bush return, but just stating about the consistency of the running game. If we are to give Tannehill weapons the running game needs to be addressed too.

Opti/Pessi,

So you don't think Daniel Thomas is the answer??? LOL.

We absolutely need a workhorse RB. Everyone wants to just focus on the WR's & the passing game but if can't run the ball more consistently & more effectively to sustain drives then this offense will struggle no matter who is catching the football.

In short--the cupboard is bare on offense.

Lets get rid of our best players every year so we can stink forever!!

It's like some people haven't been watching the games. He has been very average the last two seasons. My only concern is that it will be hard to replace him. It's kind of like when we had Jay Fiedler. We KNEW he sucked but there was nothing better. Our only hope of keeping Long is if he pulls a Paul Soliai and really wants to stay here. He will try to get the best deal from us of course but if it's enough he will stay.

Relying on Irescum to replace any player is plain stupid.

Cam Wake is a friggin bargoon.

$2M cap hit in 2012
$5M in 2013
$7M in 2014
$9.7 and $9.8M in 15 and 16

don't think he gets to see that money though (15 and 16). He will be passed his prime by then most likely. however the Dolphins did give him $17M in gurantees which was smart. Keep the cap hit low and make the player happy.

I'm guessing you are going to see a sort of fan appeasement and they will bring in Jennings and probably over pay a little. We are probably going to see CB/Fs brought in.

First of all, our FS is Reshad Jones so that makes no sense. Secondly our SS Clemons should be re-signed. Clemons is one of the few players on our defense that doesn't miss many tackles. So sad when that isn't the norm on your defense but that's where this defense is at.

Reggie Bush is the face of the franchise. He's also on all the billboards and sells the most jerseys.

Daniel Thomas can be the third RB when and if Healthy, not a starter. I liked Miller when he was at UM and I know the NFL is different but if given the right opportunity and environment can develope into a decent player. I don't think Miller was used quite as effectively last year to show his potential completely.

It's like some people haven't been watching the games. He has been very average the last two seasons. My only concern is that it will be hard to replace him. It's kind of like when we had Jay Fiedler. We KNEW he sucked but there was nothing better. Our only hope of keeping Long is if he pulls a Paul Soliai and really wants to stay here. He will try to get the best deal from us of course but if it's enough he will stay.

Dave,

I'd much rather have those team with Fiedler as our QB than the one we have now. At least we could run the football & stop people on defense. 4 straight losing seasons??? Didn't happen until Ireland came to Miami.

People have VERY short memories. When Fiedler started for us, we won a lot more games than we lost. It's only when Fiedler got hurt that we had to go to our backups like Brian Griese & Ray Lucas that we sucked.

Reggie Bush is the face of the franchise. He's also on all the billboards and sells the most jerseys.

Posted by: mike | January 23, 2013 at 02:11 PM

Wrong! The guy who got his face eaten off is the face of the franchise. WE. NEED. TO. WIN!

I would rather have those TEAMS too but Fiedler still sucked. He was the best of a bunch of crap. The fact that he was better than two other losers is irrelevant.

"Reggie Bush is the face of the franchise. He's also on all the billboards and sells the most jerseys."


Mike,

That's great & all but he's not durable enough to be a starting RB. Don't confuse him with Adrian Peterson or Arian Foster or Marshawn Lynch who run for 1000 yards in their sleep b/c he's Bush is a celebrity.

Maybe we should sign Kim Kardashian to play WR while we're at it. Bush is a poor man's CJ Spiller. Not as fast, not as quick, & older.

Get rid of Welker, Marshall, Long and Bush. LMAO!!

I would take Kim Kardashian as my "Not So" Tight End ...

Or WIDE receiver.... she's a bit of a tweener

"I would rather have those TEAMS too but Fiedler still sucked. He was the best of a bunch of crap. The fact that he was better than two other losers is irrelevant."

Dave,

My point is that he won more than he lost when he started b/c it's a team game. IF you have a great running game & a defense that can make plays & stop people you can win football games...Even if Jay Fiedler is your QB.

Who cares who's playing QB if you can't consistently run the ball, you can't score points, & your defense can't make plays???

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