In 2008, the Dolphins opted for left tackle Jake Long over quarterback Matt Ryan. It was the safer pick and, through the first few years of Long’s career, an argument could be made that it was a six-of-one-half-dozen-of-another proposition.
More recently, it’s looking like the Fins got it wrong with Long.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald explains that Long has been declining in recent years.
“His run-blocking grades have rarely been the best among Miami’s offensive linemen,” Salguero writes. “He no longer is playing like the best tackle in the NFL. He’s not even playing like the best tackle in his conference (Houston’s Duane Brown is that) or division (D’Brickashaw Ferguson and Nate Solder have been better).”
Given that the final year of Long’s rookie contract has voided, Long will become a free agent in March absent a new contract. And with Long’s big-money, pre-rookie-wage-scale deal serving as the starting point for talks, it will be hard for the Dolphins to do a market-value deal without Long knowing his market value.
The only way Long will know his market value will be to go to market. And that’s where someone will make a bad football decision but a good business decision and overpay Long.
The only way for the Dolphins to avoid that would be to overpay Long now, or later via the franchise tag in February.