Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins have many big questions to answer in the offseason when it comes to free agency, but one of the biggest questions surrounds former number one overall pick, left tackle Jake Long.
Long, who has made it to four Pro Bowls, is expected to be placed on injured reserve and be out for the season if an MRI scheduled Monday confirms a torn triceps muscle in his left arm, according to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel.
If Long is out for the season, it will be his second straight season ended on injured reserve.
According to the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, this could open the door for rookie right tackle Jonathan Martin to move to left tackle. The Sun-Sentinel said the move could be permanent as Martin’s fill-in role will likely be an audition for the 2013 season.
If Martin proves capable of handling the left side of the offensive line, Long may become expendable for the Dolphins.
Long will be a free agent at the end of the season. If the Dolphins wanted to put the franchise tag on Long, it would cost the team approximately $15.36 million, according to the Sun-Sentinel. That would tie up way too much cap room for a left tackle with an injury history.
Long could possibly return to Miami, but it would likely have to be at a salary more friendly to the organization based on his recent injuries. In addition, if Martin can take over at left tackle, Long’s costs overall could be expendable and used on multiple players.
Currently, Long would cost $12.35 million against the salary cap in 2013 under his current contract versus Martin who costs $1.013 million in 2013. With Long on the roster, the Dolphins have roughly $40 million in cap space heading into the 2013 offseason.
If Long does in fact leave the Dolphins, it will be arguably the final nail in the coffin of the failed Bill Parcells-era in Miami. Long is the only remaining member of the 2008 Dolphins draft class and Sean Smith, Brian Hartline, and Chris Clemons are all that remains from the 2009 Fins draft calss.