Robert Mayer-US PRESSWIRE
Miami Dolphins All Pro left tackle Jake Long is coming off his rookie contract, a contract that paid him $57.75 million over the five seasons since his first overall selection in the 2008 draft. Long spoke to the NFL Network about the likelihood of the four time Pro Bowl selection returning to the Dolphins in 2013.
The Miami Dolphins have several decisions facing them over the next few weeks. With the official start to the 2013 NFL league year, and thus the start of free agency, three weeks from today, Miami will have to decide which, if any, of their soon-to-be free agents are worthy of re-signing before they hit the open market. One of those players is 2008 first overall pick, left tackle Jake Long.
Long's 5-year, $57.75 million contract ends in March, and the four time Pro Bowl player is said to be asking for a contract that puts him among the elite left tackles in the league. Two years ago, the Dolphins would likely have paid that money. However, after two down years for Long, including two season ending stents on injured reserve, first for a torn biceps muscle in 2011, then a torn triceps muscle last year, the Dolphins are likely looking to sign Long to a lesser deal.
Earlier today, NFL Network's Lindsay Rhodes spoke with Long on the phone, asking him about the chances that he will return to Miami next year.
"We're going to have to see," Long said." "The last five years I've really enjoyed being a part of the Dolphins. They have such a great tradition of football there. The community and fans have really embraced me and I've loved playing there.
"I'd be open to continue my career there, but it's essentially on them, see what they want to do and what direction they want to head in and go from there. That's the business side of it so we'll see what they want to do."
Long's torn triceps was repaired by Dr. James Andrews this offseason and has been working at the Athlete's Performance facility next to Dr. Andrew's clinic. He is rehabbing alongside South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore and Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III, both of whom are rehabbing following knee surgery.
"I'm not concerned," Long said. "The last couple of years I've had some injuries I've had to work through, it hasn't been the ideal situation, but I've been working hard this offseason to get healthy and get strong. And this is the best my body has felt in a long time, and I'm just excited to get a deal done and focus on football and get back to work for 2013."
While Long wants to return to the Dolphins, and is feeling the best he has felt in a long time, it's not really all on the Dolphins to re-sign Long. The team will not overpay for what could be a great player breaking down at a young age. And, Long also said last year he was feeling the best he had felt in a long time.
Will a player just two years removed from being discussed as a future Hall of Famer and among the top two players at his position be willing to take less to return to the only team for which he has played? Or will the Dolphins be looking else where for offensive line support in 2013?
The Dolphins, Long, and us as fans will all just have to wait to see how the business side of the league works out.