Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Long's free-agent value
By Tom Carpenter
Entering last season, there was little debate about Jake Long being one of the elite left tackles in the game. Assessments like that can change quickly in the NFL, though. The Miami Dolphins changed up their blocking system, Long got hurt again and his production diminished. That's raised a fair number of flags about what teams can expect from him going forward, especially considering that he should command a hefty contract as a free agent this offseason.
Nonetheless, he will only be 28 when next season begins, so surely he will garner plenty of interest if the Dolphins fail to work out a deal to keep him. ESPN NFL Insider Bill Polian still sees Long as an A-tier free agent, while fellow Insider Khaled Elsayed cautions that there is a lot of risk investing a lot of money in Long:
Bill PolianBest available NFL free agents
"His reputation will make him an A player, but he is an injury and age concern to me. He is turning only 28 to start next season, but he already has played 74 games, making a long-term deal a risk. He's missed time the past two seasons as well. Someone will pay him, though."
Khaled ElsayedTop 10 'buyer beware' free agents
"[Y]ou would be hard-pressed not to see a depressing trend in Long's recent play. In his first three years in the league he was exceptional, but whether it's injuries or wear and tear, his past two years have created more questions, to the point where investing big money in him is a true gamble. If you judge a left tackle by his work in pass protection, Long has gone from ranking first in our pass blocking efficiency stat in 2009 and 2010 to 13th (2011) and what would have been 14th (2012) if he had have played enough snaps to qualify. Is that the kind of recent performance a team should put a substantial part of its salary cap into, in the hope he turns it around?"