BY SEAN DONOVAN
Left tackle Jake Long was drafted first overall in 2008 to be the cornerstone of the Dolphins' offense for many years. Through four seasons, Long quickly establishing himself as one of the elite linemen in the NFL.
2011, however, was a struggle for the two-time All-Pro selection. Long played well below his own high standard and missed some time due to injury for the first time in his career.
Various health problems nagged Long throughout the season, but it was a torn biceps that sent him to Injured Reserve and caused him to miss the Pro Bowl.
2012 becomes a crucial year for Long and the Dolphins, as his long-term health is key to whether general manager Jeff Ireland will decide to re-sign the star tackle or consider his replacement.
Long will likely search for a deal to reclaim his title as the highest paid offensive lineman, which he lost when Cleveland signed Joe Thomas to a seven-year, $84 million deal last year.
Update: A likely scenario for Long is that he gets franchise-tagged in 2013, as the Dolphins recently tied up a bunch of money in defensive end Cameron Wake's new contract. -Nick
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