Dolphins sign Michigan tackle Long
AP Sports Writer
Vail, CO Colorado
DAVIE, Fla. ” Michigan tackle Jake Long signed a multiyear contract Tuesday with the Miami Dolphins, who plan to select him with the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft.
The Dolphins were interested in trading the top choice. When no suitors surfaced, they decided to sign Long and avoid a possible holdout. Last year’s first pick, JaMarcus Russell, missed all of training camp before signing a $61 million contract with the Oakland Raiders.
“It’s such a great honor to be the No. 1 pick,” Long said. “I’m real glad we got the contract done so I don’t have to worry about any of that.”
The new Dolphins regime led by Bill Parcells began negotiations last week with Long’s agent, Tom Condon.
“Jake was our guy from the beginning,” general manager Jeff Ireland said. “Jake Long was on the top of our board for a long time. There wasn’t a whole lot of debate. We thought it was a very good fit with the Miami Dolphins.”
The Dolphins and Condon declined to disclose contract terms. The Dolphins said they didn’t begin contract talks with any player other than Long.
“It was a very straightforward negotiation,” Condon said. “They didn’t leverage us with other players, and we didn’t tell them we wanted to be on some different team or any of those kinds of things.”
Reaching an agreement before the draft isn’t unprecedented. The Houston Texans signed defensive end Mario Williams as their No. 1 pick on the eve of the 2006 draft.
Condon said there’s enough time for the Rams to reach a contract deal with a prospect before they make the second pick in the draft Saturday.
“My understanding is St. Louis is on the clock,” Condon said with a smile.
Offensive line is considered the biggest need for the Dolphins, who went 1-15 last year, and new Miami coach Tony Sparano coached the offensive line with the Dallas Cowboys.
The only other offensive lineman to be taken with the No. 1 pick since 1970 was Ohio State tackle Orlando Pace, who made the Pro Bowl seven consecutive times after joining the Rams in 1997.
The Dolphins would be thrilled with a comparable achievement by the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Long, who is expected to play left tackle.
“Jake has all the qualities we’re looking for in our linemen,” Sparano said. “He’s very tough, smart and disciplined. Those are the people we want to surround ourselves with here.”
Long started 40 games at Michigan and was Big Ten offensive lineman of the year in 2006 and 2007. He finished to LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey in balloting last season for the Lombardi and Outland trophies.
The Dolphins decided to use the top pick on offense rather than take Dorsey, Virginia defensive end Chris Long or Ohio State linebacker Vernon Gholston. It turns out Ireland’s comment last week about drafting “a pillar of your defense” was a slip of the tongue _ or a smoke screen.
“That’s for me to know, and you to guess about,” Ireland said with a smile.
Miami has eight other picks and four of the first 64.
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