Reporting Tim Kephart
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – The Miami Dolphins offensive line took an expected hit Monday morning when left tackle Jake Long left the team as a free agent and signed with the St. Louis Rams, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald.
According to the Herald, the Rams signed Long to a 4-year, $34 million contract that includes up to $20 million in guaranteed money. The Dolphins offered Long around $8 million per season, but would have saved the player state tax costs, which Florida doesn’t have.
Still, Long had expected to receive at least $10 million per season. However, between the glut of free agent tackles and draft prospects, Long took the best deal available to him given the fact that he’s coming off two injury-plagued seasons.
It’s a risky investment for the Rams and big bet for the Dolphins. St. Louis is hoping they have picked up the Jake Long of the first few years in the league, a Pro Bowl-caliber tackle who can finally protect Sam Bradford’s blind side consistently.
The Dolphins are gambling that Long was not the player he once was, that Jonathan Martin can hold down the left tackle position in the NFL and that Miami can fill the offensive line holes on the right side through the rest of free agency and via the NFL Draft.
According to the Herald’s Armando Salguero, “the club has a ‘Plan B’ for replacing Long.”
Interestingly enough, it’s the second season in a row that a number one overall pick has left his original team as an unrestricted free agent (Mario Williams in 2012), according to Salguero.