Jake Long’s decline creates dilemma for Dolphins


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.

53 responses to “Jake Long’s decline creates dilemma for Dolphins

  1. Ryan Tannehill has never been shut out in the playoffs. Ryan Tannehill may have the leadership ability to inspire his teammates in critical games late in the season and in the postseason. The Dolphins made the right choice not to tie their franchise to a QB who piles up stats but will never be championship material.

  2. The Dolphins have been a mess for so long, it’s hard to say if the dude even thinks effort will make a difference on the team. Maybe a change of scenery would do him good.

    Or maybe he’s just burning out, or breaking down either mentally or physically.

    Will be interesting to watch next year for sure. Doesn’t look like he will be back in a Dolphins uni.

  3. I’m a big Jake Long fan….and would hate to see him leave, but I think you have to take a “wait and see” attitude with him.

    While his play has declined, he is still amongst the best LT’s in the league. I would like to see him remain a Dolphin….but at the right price. I would not franchise him.

  4. even if his skills are diminished, Chicago should make a run at Long this offseason. his ‘diminished’ skills would still make him our cornerstone LT and best OL player for years to come

  5. Does Jay Cutler take a smaller raise to remember his kid’s name when he’s 45? I remember what Allen did to Webb the last time they played, and it should serve as a remeinder that it would be worth the cash for Cutler to consider his long term health.

  6. Does anyone think that if Matt Ryan was shut out in the playoffs last year with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Tony Gonzales, Mike Turner, and a very solid offensive line, that he would have suceeded in Miami with no high caliber receiving targets, running back by weak committee, and the Dolphins O-Line minus Long? The Falcons backup would be leaving him in the dust. Matt Ryan on the Dolphins would be like Matt Barkley if he went to San Diego State…. or the NFL.

  7. I am possibly stupid but can someone tell me WTF this even means?

    “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.”

  8. His trouble is overstated. Martin is constantly getting help on his side and Long is all by himself. Someone gets a coverage sack on Long and the sky is falling.

    He’s not worth $10 million, but a long term deal should get done.

  9. It’s ironic because this is total revisionist history when the history doesn’t even make their point. Matt Ryan’s won ZERO playoff games. Has 2 all-world WR, and the best TE in the history of the game, and hasn’t done squat in 5 yrs.

  10. Might as well pay him, being a dolphin fan I’m tired of seeing them taking O-Lineman wit their top picks we need skill players I expect them to look for a top flight WR too like Dewayne Bowe or Mike Wallace

  11. As a close follower of Dolphins news, I can say that Salguero doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about half the time. If you wanna know how good Jake is, ask Tannehill about all the blindside hits he’s taken. Oh wait.

  12. Every offensive players performance would improve if Miami had a WR that had the speed to push the secondary back. Right now DBs are always in the WR’s hip pocket and that is freeing up the safeties to play closer to the line of scrimmage where they are clogging up passing lanes for the quick slants, short passes and making it more difficult for the OL to block for the running game. Anyone who disagrees with me needs to watch the last three games and take notice how close to the line of scrimmage the secondary is playing.

  13. Long was an elite LT but his play has diminished. That may be partly due to injuries. He is not as durable as he used to be. His protection has been good but not stellar this year and the run scheme is not the best fit for his type of play. That said he is still a very good LT (diminished skills and all).

    The question is just as it was stated in the article. What is he worth going forward? I don’t think the Dolphins will pay him elite money anymore. I think they will offer him a fair deal that is high but not elite. Throw in some incentives to get the pay up towards the elite level if he remains healthy and performs well. If he doesn’t take it, somebody will overpay him.

    The Dolphins have a bunch of good picks in the draft so if the Long deal falls through, there is an option to grab another young lineman in the first round. Martin is playing RT now, but was LT in college. There are options available.

  14. hello jake, the bears are on line 1! if they do not sign this guy the min. is eligible they are idiots! over rated or not he is better than anything they have. Hay Cutler says pay him whatever wants!

  15. If Miami doesn’t want to pay him, I’d be happy to have him on the right side of the line in Carolina opposite Gross. He’s had how much ACTUAL talent around him in Miami to make his job easier? Let’s say he’d wound up in either New England or Indy, how likely is it we’d be talking about this right now?

  16. There wasn’t a rookie cap when Long and Ryan were drafted. A QB drafted 1st overall would’ve commanded a larger salary and would have been a riskier investment.

  17. Think of the alternative without an LT. Or better yet, ask Philly and SD fans. I’d overpay only with a 3 year deal or a franchise the way tackles get beat up.

  18. The dilemma was created at the beginning of the season when the Dolphins foolishly chose not to trade him to avoid this next dilemma. And now they lost the extra value for this contract year in addition to not being prepped for a quality SB run this year. It’s a lose-lose choice they made and they should seriously consider a mngmt change for next season to avoid making a boatload of mistakes like they did this year and every other year in recent history.

  19. shutupbrees says:

    It’s ironic because this is total revisionist history when the history doesn’t even make their point. Matt Ryan’s won ZERO playoff games. Has 2 all-world WR, and the best TE in the history of the game, and hasn’t done squat in 5 yrs.
    Well Matt has made the Falcons into a winning franchise every year and the Falcons are one of the best teams in the league with elite players.

    Which leads one to conclude a much more important team question other than Jake Long’s status and decline. Who has been recruiting for the Dolphins? They have acquired so few talented players that the offense can be shut down after watching some game film. Moreover the Dolphins only made the playoffs once since drafting Jake Long with their #1 overall pick.

  20. I do not care if Jake Long retires tommorow, his career has been way more successful than Matt Ryan’s career. Matt Ryan is the least talented skill player on the Falcons offense. I would be shocked if Matt Ryan could win a playoff game on Madden All-Pro. I hope Jake and the Fins come to a nice agreement, he needs to retire a Fin. If Jake is having constant injuries switch him with Johnathan Martin. Jake has dominated his position for years, some players struggle to dominate for more than a season. FINSup!!!!

  21. Hind sight is 20/20 right? They should’ve done this or that. Well yea, looking back YEARS down the road. Come on, save it. We live in the now. Long graded highly, played like that too. So maybe he is or isn’t declining… It happens. But the pick was made at that time. It was a good pick. He lived up to his status. NOW, looking back, it’s easy to be critical and say they should’ve done this or that. Garbage…

  22. Jay Cutler is an elite QB says:
    Nov 24, 2012 10:18 PM
    I am possibly stupid but can someone tell me WTF this even means?

    “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.”

    45 18

    That saying basically means its the same either way because Long was great so even if Matt Ryan is good they still got a great player. Like if we were driving and I said should we take the city streets or the expressway, you might say we’ll get there in twenty minutes either way, so it’s six of one half dozen of the other. Meaning- same thing.

  23. Bearfan34 please research before speaking. The last time the Bears played the Vikings Cutler didn’t play And the time before that it was a romp by the Bears in wich Cutler threw 2 TDs and Allen registered 1 sack 2 QB hits. That being said Long would be a huge upgrade but not worth the money if he’s on the decline. If you look around the league this year a ton of decent QBs who are getting killed and someone else will out bid them.

  24. And that’s why the Dolphins drafted Andrew Luck’s left tackle in last years draft. Its just a matter of time before he’s starting at LT for the Dolphins.

  25. Jake is still a very good player but definately not his old self. The problem is the contract he is currently uinder. Some team will offer big $$ in March and that will be that, I don’t see the Fins keeping up. We’ll see. Go Fins

  26. Franchise him and then trade him for a 1st or 2nd Rd pick to a team where Sparano, an ex-Parcells assistant, or Brian Daboll is at!!!!

    Hartline and Sean Smith don’t need new contracts while Randy Starks does. For the most part Long can still play at a high level, but the Fins need to definitely do a conditional 2nd that elevates to a 1st.

  27. Long was great at first then he fell of a cliff the last two years… and that’s not an exaggeration…

    I’ll get a lot of thumbs downs from the Long groupies…. but at the end of the day, he is leading a unit that was 30th last year and 22nd and circling the drain this year…. they’ll end up below 25th

    when you got a leader that’s doing that, you cut him and move on…. especially on offensive line, because the entire offensive performance begins and ends there…

  28. Dolphin games are unwatchable and they may have the least amount of star power in the league.

    That being said, I cant make it through an entire Dolphin game without flipping the channels so I cant evaluate how bad Jake Long has become. Is he giving up a lot of blind side hits and sacks? If he can still pass protect, I’d keep the man.

  29. He wants to get paid like he is a dominant tackle but thats where the problems start. Yes the line protection has been slanted to help protect Martin leaving Long one on one with some of the leagues best pass rushers but isn’t that what teams are supposed to do when they have an elite tackle ?

    Watching him struggle just indicates that he is not the dominant player they thought he would be 5 years ago. It’s a tough decision to either over pay him or let him go but the Fins should have enough room to over pay him at least for a year or two. Martin maybe his successor but he is no where near ready to play on an island like Long does every week.

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