Tuesday, January 22, 2013
Long coming back for Miami?
By Tim Kavanagh
The fates of two NFL teams underwent a shift at the start of the 2008 draft. Needing a new franchise QB -- but not convinced that Matt Ryan could be that man -- the Miami Dolphins took LT Jake Long instead, with Ryan slipping to No. 3 overall (the Atlanta Falcons). The Dolphins took Chad Henne with the No. 57 overall pick in that draft, and neither Henne nor any of the other options prior or since have been able to take on that "franchise QB" mantle that was left without a bearer since Dan Marino retired.
Meanwhile, as Ryan was establishing his own impressive career arc in Atlanta, Long functioned at a high level at his LT position for a time following the 2008 draft, but his level of play has fallen off considerably in recent campaigns, partially due to his inability to stay on the field. With an expiring contract following the 2012 season, some believed that his time playing for Miami would conclude at the end of the campaign.
However, with the Dolphins' offseason in full-swing, there now appears to be a chance that he'll be brought back. According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, Dolphins GM Jeff Ireland has had numerous conversations with Long this offseason as the Michigan product rehabilitates his triceps injury at the team facilities. Ireland would not divulge any specifics regarding the negotiations on a new deal or his willingness to use the franchise tag on Long.
"It's one of those avenues we have there available to us," he said of the franchise tag. "To negotiate in the media right now, I'm not going to give you my plans or what I plan to do from a franchise standpoint but it's certainly available to us and we'll use those avenues to make those decisions moving forward ... we've got some tough decisions to make here moving forward."
The Dolphins do have 2012 second-round pick Jonathan Martin on the roster, and he played reasonably well in an audition at LT once Long went down. From a player acquisition standpoint, the Dolphins may have an easier time finding a replacement for Martin at RT than a different LT, so Martin's aptitude at that spot is a key consideration as this situation unfolds.