Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Ireland: Long situation a 'difficult, complicated' one


The Miami Dolphins will make many decisions on personnel this offseason, both in free agency and in the draft. But the most complicated decision involves one of their own expiring contracts.

Miami must decide whether or not to re-sign former All-Pro left tackle Jake Long, who has been the team's best offensive player since he was drafted in 2008 and at one time seemed to be on a path to greatness. (photo: Jake Long, Flickr)

But he's now coming off two consecutive seasons of diminished production and has suddenly become an injury-prone player after going three and a half years without missing a game.

This makes both the decision to re-sign and contract negotiations very complex.

Nevertheless, the Dolphins and Long have been discussing an extension for the past five months, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Those talks have stalled recently, however.

"Jake has a decision to make and we have a decision to make," Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland told Salguero. "It’s a very, very difficult decision and it’s a very complicated negotiation, so we’ll have to see how things go."

Ireland believes that the four-time Pro Bowler "can still play in this league, for sure." But any deal that would give Miami fair value and reduce their liability in case of injury may be too much of a pay cut for the fifth-year veteran.

Long has enjoyed being one of the highest paid offensive linemen in the NFL since he entered the league. But, after the drop-off in play on the field and the injuries, Miami would no longer be justified in paying Long top-level money.

The main question is whether or not another team will. In the end, the gap between what Long still thinks he's worth and what his true value actually is may be too much to keep him in South Florida.

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