Jake Long may or may not be the St. Louis Rams next left tackle. Head coach Jeff Fisher told a local sports talk radio station on Thursday that Long was still in town, still talking. So what kind of player is Long? Injuries have dogged him his last two seasons; can he still be effective?
For some insight, I asked Kevin Nogle of SB Nation's Dolphins blog The Phinsider.
RVB: Why are the Dolphins not attempting to hang onto him?
KN: The Dolphins want to bring Long back, but don't want to pay him elite money like he was getting on his rookie contract. They are worried about his apparent slip in playing level over the past two years, mostly due to injuries. The team has not given up on bringing him back, and likely won't until pen hits paper somewhere else.
RVB: Are his recent run of injuries compromising his talent?
KN: Absolutely. Long is a very good tackle in the NFL right now. He's not elite. The injuries are the cause of that. Over the last two years, Long has had to deal with back problems, a shoulder injury, knee issues, a torn biceps muscle, and a torn triceps muscle. He just has not been able to get back up to the level of the 2008 number one overall pick and four straight Pro Bowl experiences.
RVB: When healthy, what kind of player is he? Intangibles?
KN: Hard to say. It's been so long since we've seen him healthy. He injured his shoulder and back for the first time in 2010, and everything has been going downhill since. Could he get back to his elite level? It's possible. But, it's hard to risk a ton of money on him based on him potentially getting back to it. Long is incredibly smart, knows what a defensive end/outside linebacker is going to do before he does it, and has the size and agility you want in a left tackle. It really all comes down to his health and how that impacts his level of play.
There's definitely some risk involved in this move for the Rams. Long is probably angling for a sizable contract, and the Rams have to be sure about him before investing in another veteran lineman only to see him sidelined by injury.