- James Walker, ESPN Staff Writer
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But here is the multi-million dollar question: Did Long just play his last game in Miami? The former No. 1 overall pick will be an unrestricted free agent in March after wrapping up his rookie contract.
Whether to re-sign Long or let him walk is the biggest decision Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland will make this offseason. It’s a complex situation with many layers.
Long was once considered the top left tackle in the NFL. But he’s been plagued by injuries and inconsistency the past two seasons. This is the second consecutive year Long ended his season on injured reserve. Can Miami make Long one of the NFL’s highest-paid linemen based on his play the past two seasons?
Long plays the premium position of left tackle, and good left tackles are hard to find. Long is no longer elite, but still a top-10 player at his position. The development of rookie quarterback Ryan Tannehill also depends on good pass protection on the blindside.
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the franchise tag is not an option for Long. Therefore, the Dolphins have narrowed their choices to a long-term extension or letting Long sign elsewhere.
The Dolphins (5-7) will start rookie Jonathan Martin at left tackle for the remainder of the season. Martin’s performance over the final four games could determine if Long returns to Miami next season.
7hEric D. Williams