« Everything Jeff Ireland told the media Tuesday | Main | An honest look at Greg Jennings, Jermichael Finley »

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

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Good afternoon guys,

I just read Armando's article here and haven't looked at any comments just yet because I wanted to respond before being swayed.

My initial reaction is and always has been to let him walk. Long didn't just have bad plays this year he was a downright embarrassed at times. His injury history and they fact that I've been calling him Tony Boselli way before Armando did is good riddance for me. I'm not the sentimental type. He hasn't made a difference or mauled guys in the run game since like the inception of the Wildcat days it seems like which was like 08-09 years. He hasn't been Elite or very good in a long time.

My plan has been and still is to add a playmaking WR like Wallace, Jennings and you could also target an OT such as Brandon Albert from KC or even Andre Smith (don't think his weight plays into up-tempo) or even Sebastian Vollmer (injury history too).

But Long isn't worth a contract IMO. He's addition by subtraction. You lose nothing and just move on from him.

Bye,bye Jake Long.

Hello Eric Fisher or Lane Johnson.

Trying to be positive and hoping that all the many lenghty conversations between Philbin and Ireland has drawn a picture in Irelands mind as to what type of players Philbin needs to suceed and he has the knowledge and experience to get those players. But then again??????

"I just read Armando's article here and haven't looked at any comments just yet because I wanted to respond before being swayed.

My initial reaction is and always has been to let him walk. Long didn't just have bad plays this year he was a downright embarrassed at times. His injury history and they fact that I've been calling him Tony Boselli way before Armando did is good riddance for me. I'm not the sentimental type. He hasn't made a difference or mauled guys in the run game since like the inception of the Wildcat days it seems like which was like 08-09 years. He hasn't been Elite or very good in a long time.

My plan has been and still is to add a playmaking WR like Wallace, Jennings and you could also target an OT such as Brandon Albert from KC or even Andre Smith (don't think his weight plays into up-tempo) or even Sebastian Vollmer (injury history too).

But Long isn't worth a contract IMO. He's addition by subtraction. You lose nothing and just move on from him."

Andy,

Thank you. Couldn't agree more.

I'm glad that there are still fans that actually watch the games.

If Long want's more than 8 Million, let him walk. Spend the 8 million signing a WR or two to satisfy the local media and fan base and draft the kid from Western Michigan in the first round to replace Long.

Exactly Albert!

There are some really athletic LT's available in this draft and with the new CBA terms we don't have to break the bank for their first contract like we had to for Long.

*clap*clap*clap*clap*clap

Armando!

Good article!

Great piece Armando. Haven't read any comments but I can only imagine a few of our regulars are wholeheartedly disagreeing with you because of some of their past posts regarding Jake Long's value.

Me, can't find anything to disagree with and I think the post was right on.

DC/Kris,

Thanks for your comments about Zero Dark Thirty. Glad you enjoyed it DC. I saw 'Silver Linings Playbook' last week too and enjoyed it very much also.

Kris, I got what you were saying about the movie. I don't take any of this stuff as gospel and recognize that there's a manipulative angle to it. I'm still interested in exposing myself to it and having an open mind about it, but don't worry...I get the propaganda angle. Thanks for the heads up.

Busy day on this end guys. Not much to say on Long, other than I'd like to see him back at the right price. I don't know what that RIGHT price is. That's Ireland's job.

Gotta run....cheers!

Phony78, could you kiss Armando a s s anymore?

YG, I'M done with you and your aliases. Blast away. This will be the last time I ever address you, that's a promise.

We Need Playmakers,

yeah, there's nothing he does that makes me say he can't be replaced. If he was consistently at minimum a good player I would say try and keep him at the right price. But good one week/bad the next tells me there is a guy out there in FA or in the middle of the draft who could do no worse at a much cheaper price and has more upside.

Resign part of the strength of the team Randy Starks. Resign Hartline he'd make a good compliment to another starting WR.

Sign Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings.

Draft at least 2 playmakers in the first 5 picks (top 100) whether it be WR/WR or WR/TE or TE/WR. I don't really care but if we ever want to see if Tannehill is the answer at QB for the next decade they better get him players to help raise his confidence. He has the tools to succeed but I don't want his confidence killed because he is forcing throws because guys can't get seperation again.

"If Long want's more than 8 Million, let him walk. Spend the 8 million signing a WR or two to satisfy the local media and fan base and draft the kid from Western Michigan in the first round to replace Long."

Albert,

Other than our GM I can't think of anyone in the NFL that would be dumb enough to pay Long $8 Million a year or any amount remotely close to it after the season he had.

Maybe the Bears or the Cardinals b/c their O-lines are worse than ours is but I don't think it's going to happen.

For the record--I believe Ireland will wind up re-signing Long b/c he's just f#cking incompetent.

"yeah, there's nothing he does that makes me say he can't be replaced. If he was consistently at minimum a good player I would say try and keep him at the right price. But good one week/bad the next tells me there is a guy out there in FA or in the middle of the draft who could do no worse at a much cheaper price and has more upside.

Resign part of the strength of the team Randy Starks. Resign Hartline he'd make a good compliment to another starting WR.

Sign Mike Wallace or Greg Jennings.

Draft at least 2 playmakers in the first 5 picks (top 100) whether it be WR/WR or WR/TE or TE/WR. I don't really care but if we ever want to see if Tannehill is the answer at QB for the next decade they better get him players to help raise his confidence. He has the tools to succeed but I don't want his confidence killed because he is forcing throws because guys can't get seperation again."

Andy,

After watching Tannehill take some of the hits he took, I say enough is enough already. If he can't protect the QB then what are we paying him for???

We Need Playmakers,

I think you're right. The thing I don't get is the word "progress stoppers" was so widely used by Parcells and Ireland and yet Long to me is exactly that. Where is his value to Miami? He shouldn't have much.

Pass Protection - He got Tannehill simply lit up this year on several occasions. "He's always struggled with speed rushers is everyones excuse". The league is full of guys who rely on speed to get to the passer. But he struggled with so many players from the washed Shawne Merrimans-1st Jets game to JJ Watts. S/O to Tannehill for being as tough as you could ask.

Run Blocking - this was what his strenght was and it's his biggest weakness. He lacks serious athleticism to get to the second level and make a difference for this team. Pouncey gets down field, Incognito is a fire hydrant and he makes an effort to get down field, Martin has the athleticism to get down field. Long can't do it anymore.

After watching Tannehill take some of the hits he took, I say enough is enough already. If he can't protect the QB then what are we paying him for???

Posted by: We Need Playmakers

And that's all that needs to be said. Long was MAYBE 15th to 20th best tackle in the league this year and I feel that's being generous.

Watching senior bowl practice as I write. The just interviewed Lane Johnson and asked about his 40 time. He says he ran a 4.71 at 6'6 305lbs! Bye bye J.Long!!

The 4 or 5 games I was able to see last year it seemed tha Long was getting beat on Passing situations, Being Bullrushed, Maybe it was the Injurys, I don know, I am not a coach, But to offer the kind of money his agents looking for is crazy....., Ireland will probably give it to him...

Phins78,

I don't have the tape or resources and not sure what number Long takes but according to ProFootballFocus Long was one of the worst Left Tackles in the league and like 2nd to worst of in the run game.

I don't know how reliable that is but it tells me that what they are saying and combining what I see with my own eyes that Long is finished.

BTW Armando,

For the first time today you wrote Jake Long was sort of like Tony Bosseli. I have been comparing the 2 for months on here so give me a shout out next time.

Lane Johnson will be taken in the first round. That means for Miami to get him they would have to use the #12 pick or trade back into the first. They could also trade down but there is NO WAY in hell Ireland uses a high pick on an offensive linemen when we have no play makers and the fans want him fired.

Mando's been comparing Long and Boselli for over a year now in his column and on radio. Your plea for credit would be funny if you were kidding. You don't sound like you're kidding.

Andy I'm in agreement there. I was trying to be kind because Jake has been the man but this year was atrocious. The guy was 6'7, 325lbs with abs coming out of college. He was an athletic freak, never thought he would break down so quickly.

let long go unless he cuts his salary way down

Actually, name's really Gay.

For all those on this blog that are against using high picks on the OL I would refer you to the two Super Bowl teams. BOTH teams have invested heavily with one's and two's in the OL. Does not matter who you have at WR if the QB is being sacked, running for his life or constantly being injured.

We Need Playmakers,

Someone WILL pay Long big bucks. Just sit back and watch.

course they will albert, teams over pay all the time. just better not be us

I know most everybody here hates Ireland (We Need Playmakers) BUT the main man responsible for us having 5 draft picks in the first 100 and being 45 Million under the cap is IRELAND.

Here were Jake's weak points going into the draft.

"Negatives: A little tight in his hips, lacking ideal lateral agility in his kick-slide and can struggle when having to immediately change direction (will take false steps)...Has a strong hand punch, but tends to get them outside his frame, causing him to whiff a lot on a quick pass set (inconsistent placement)...Best operating in a short area, as he does show some balance issues when asked to run long distances...Needs to show better explosion off the snap when engaging defenders, but does compensate with a strong hand punch...When he gets too high in his stance, his base narrows and he will revert to over-extending in attempts to position and sustain...Must unlock his hips and explode more often into the defender, as he prefers to use his size to engulf or hands to sustain rather than blow up the defender (better earlier in games)...More effective working on an island with an edge rusher, as his lack of ideal hip swerve will see him allow inside penetration".

The things that still stand out to me go hand and hand. Better in tight spaces and has trouble with lateral movement. It seems that these are two traits an elite LT should have figured out by now and he does not. He gets caught outside with speed rushers because of his lack of lateral quickness, we can all see that. And in turn when having to step outside he is taken out of his comfort zone in tight quarters. It's possible the rest of the NFL may have him figured out and is a reason we are seeing the quicker decline. Add that to the injuries, it's not good.

albert, f u c k the OL, we've been trying to get that right for the last 5 years and it hasnt worked. MOVE ON FAT ALBERT!

Andy I have to back scourt up on this one, Armando's been beating that drum for a long time now.

Dusty Bottoms,

I thought the thread in this blog is that the Dolphins NEVER spend money. If that is true I can't see where they would over spend on Long.

Scourt, Phins78,

Maybe I should of backed it with "LOL". I was kidding.

Albert, I think we can all agree there has to be a happy medium. The Dolphins have one of the top paid offensive lines in the league and it hasn't helped one bit. I understand where you're coming from, a great o-line helps but there has to be a compromise. We can't keep pouring all of this money into one unit while penny pinching on the guys who actually touch the ball.

Guy,
Right. Obviously you cater to the Bears philosophy of paying huge money to your QB to see him get hurt every year because your offensive line can't block the girls from Century Village. Great thinking Guy!!

Got ya Andy, sorry about that, can't tell sometimes.

Albert that is very true. Some in here are always whining that the Dolphins don't spend money eventhough they have been right up against the cap most seasons.

I think the beginning of the statement is right but is missing the end. "The Dolphins don't spend money".....on the right players.

"can't block the girls from Century Village."

:D

Albert,

SF has invested heavily with Staley, Iupati and the other RT who's name is slipping my mind from Rutgers.

Baltimore has 2 Free Agents in McKinnie and Birk both in their way out of the league literally.

Marshall Yanda was a 3rd or 4th rounder. So was their other OG Jah Reid.

Michael Oher was only starter that was a 1st rounder.

Craig,

Don't be swayed by Kris. He's either A) Usama bin Laden or B) Jake Long.

But Mark has made me change my mind. I want 4 Jonathan Martin clones for the line and then we can get to the part of the team that actually, you know, has anything remotely to do with touching the ball.

Well said mando, agreed!

Andy, the guard Osemele was a 2nd round pick. And McKinnie was at one time a high draft pick - hardly out of the league - cut by Minnesota and picked up in the same offseason. Wasn't like he exactly came out of nowhere.

As Albert said, and I said on page one, 6 guys picked in the first two rounds .... that's quite a lot.

Poor Sparano


How far that man has fallen off the coaching tree in the NFL. First as a head coach here in miami only to be stabbed in the back later by your former pal ireland and your big boss in Ross.

Then trying to make a fresh start, you head to New York as an OC with the likes and dysfunctional Rex Ryan as your main man in charge and malcontents like santonio holmes and bart scott to deal with as players and just a debacle of an offense lead by Mark Sanchez.(Chad Henne PT 2)


And then where do you turn to after that? One of the most DYSFUNTIONAL franchises in sports today, the OAKLAND FAIDERS as your next project as O-line Coordinator.

This man has the worst luck in the world when it comes to having to improve a team into a winner. I really do feel bad for the guy, he just seems to be setup for failure no matter where he lands.


AndyNJ,

Both of the Ravens OT were #1 picks. McKinnie WAS a number 1 pick of the Vikings and Michael Oher was a #1 of the Ravens. BOTH are quality picks.

Nice talking to everyone. Good day.

Hahaha, DC, that would be one comedic line. You would incorporate the end result into the pro bowl skills competition like they have for the NBA and NHL. How far can you throw Johnathan Martin ....

Oh, did everyone hear the news? We can let Moore walk, Jamarcus Russell says he wants to come back to the NFL. And he's only 320lbs right now. So a featherweight. Since we were one of 2 teams that worked him out in '10, I'm sure Miami is going to give him another spin.

Geesh, the fact that he was given 32mil to depart Oakland in 2 years wasn't enough evidence that he's a total bust?

Albert and Mark Toronto,

My point with McKinnie is that he was a street Free Agent cut by Minnesota and he has about a season or 2 left tops. He wasn't drafted by them was my point. Birk was a FA.

And Osemele was a 2nd rounder again not a first and Yanda a 3rd or 4th.

The point Im making is you dont need to constantly draft guys with high picks there are other avenues where that can be filled.

San Fran on the other hand they have 3 - 1st rounders.

I think the argument doesn't matter all the top linemen will be gone by the time Miami picks anyway. Joeckel will be in top 5 even perhaps #1. Fisher is dominating these Senior Bowl practices and won't make it out of the top 10.

Now Chance Warmack is the one OG who supposedly merits a high selection but if he slips to #12 would I take him? Maybe but would rather see it be a difference maker.

Long was a botched draft pick.....

Hmmmm

Jamarcus Russel Or Mark Sanchez as your backup QB to Ryan Tannehill if Moore walks???

Irelands got a tough choice ahead of him this offseason.

I would choose DEATH personally.

Sporono to Oakland???, LMAO, Dont those guys have enough problem?

Sanchez > Tannehill

Good bet that if Long is released that OAKLAND will be one of the few teams knocking on the door for his services *LMAO*

Sparano and his reputation with Jake Long might just be the perfect fit for them both.

Well, if Ireland truly is trying to resign Long is that he thinks Jake can still play at a high level AND he has not found somebody adequate to man RT and JMart will return there, for now. The question is, do we believe that Ireland is trying his utmost in these negotiations? What do you think?

If you want my personal, unvarnished opinion Mark, you'll get your wish. I think Long gets the opportunity to test the market. He gets some nibbles, but in the end will realize there isn't a HUGE market for lineman on the back end of his career, coming off 2 Season-ending injuries, who is susceptible to the speed rush game. He'll get offered maybe $500,000-1 mil more/yr. than what Ireland will give him. He'll discuss with his wife, and realize after the moving Company, taking a hit on his house in the Florida market, etc., that amount will dwindle to virtually nothing.

So he'll come back and sign for fair value here. And you'll be able to see J Mart back on the island with Mr. Rourke.

I thought crazy Al Davis died last year...

Two things:

Mando, excellent write up. You continue to kick butt and take names.

Andy, OUTSTANDING point on the Ravens offensive line. Truly great.

« 1 2 3 4 »

The comments to this entry are closed.