During the 2013 offseason, the Miami Dolphins and St. Louis Rams engaged in a bidding war for the services of Miami's 2008 number one overall pick, left tackle Jake Long. The Rams ultimately won the contest, with Miami not wanting to overpay for a tackle they saw as already starting to physically break down. Long signed a four-year, $34 million contract with the Rams, including $12 million guaranteed.
According to ESPN's Nick Wagoner, Long was informed today that he will be released by the Rams, just two years into the deal. Long had been scheduled to account for a $10.5 million cap hit for St. Louis this year, which will now transition into $2.5 million in dead money and $8 million in salary cap space.
Long is immediately able to meet with and sign with another team, not having to wait until the start of the NFL's free agency Tuesday afternoon.
In seven years in the league, Long has appeared in 96 career games, starting all of them. He was a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first four years, all with Miami, before injuries started to mount. He last played in all 16 games in a season in 2010, his one First-Team All-Pro selection season. He missed two contests in 2011 with the Dolphins, but still made the Pro Bowl. In 2012, his last with Miami, he missed four games. In 2013, he missed one contest for the Rams, then missed nine games this past season. Both the 2013 and 2014 games missed for the Rams came after Long tore his ACL.
Long is a Hall of Fame talent who locked down the left side of the Dolphins' offensive line from the day he arrived in Miami. Between shoulder, knee, back, and triceps injuries, Long just could not return to his early career form over the past few years. When he is healthy, Long is among the best left tackles in the game, but those healthy games are few and far between at this point in his career.
Long will likely find a team this offseason, potentially as a starting left tackle for the offensive line. He will, however, have to have a capable backup for when the next injury comes along and sidelines the Michigan alumnus.
It really is unfortunate to see Long's potential as a generational left tackle not be reached by something he could never hope to control.