For any NFL team looking for an offensive tackle, Jake Long of the Miami Dolphins is an intriguing proposition.
Long, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2008 NFL draft, is a four-time Pro Bowl player who was arguably the best tackle in football in 2009 and 2010. He hasn't been as effective the last two years presumably because of injuries. He suffered a back injury and a torn biceps muscle in 2011. He suffered a torn triceps muscle in 2012.
Two years ago, Long never would have reached the open market. But because of his diminished effectiveness and his desire to still be paid like one of the best tackles in football, there's a good chance Long will be available when free agency opens on March 12.
''We've talked with Jake, we've talked with his representative as well,
we've made our desire to have him back on this football team known,'' Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said Thursday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. ''But that's a tricky one. There's a lot of things that you normally don't have in that particular case, some of the details I don't want to get into, but it's just a complicated
Long recently had surgery to repair the torn triceps. At 27 (he'll turn 28 in May), he'd have a lot left if he ever returned to 100 percent health. To many GMs, Long's situation is too hot to handle. But others might see it as an opportunity.
''I'd love to have him back. He's been a pillar for ourfootball team since the day he stepped on campus,'' Ireland said. ''Injury history -- I don't want to say it's an issue. It's something we look at. Obviously we have more intimate knowledge of his health than anybody else, so it's something we're aware of.''