I don't think it's that complicated from the outside. It would be very, very surprising if the Dolphins were willing to pay Long more money than any other NFL team.
Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald reported Wednesday that the Dolphins presented their left tackle with "something of a lowball" contract offer during the season. The Dolphins know Long did not play like a top-10 offensive tackle in 2012, and his injury concerns are serious long-term. He will need to take a pay cut to stay in Miami and yet ...
"He's one of those guys that likes the idea of being the best at what he does, and one way he proves to everyone that he is is by being the highest paid at what he does," one Dolphins source told Salguero. "Yeah, there's a considerable amount of professional ego there."
Asked Wednesday if Long still was elite, Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland responded: "I think Jake can still play in this league for sure."
These are not quotes that come from a team that expects to keep a player. When a prospective free agent gets this close to free agency, the expected outcome is that he leaves. Once Long hits the market, he should be willing to find a team ready to take a big chance on him.
It sounds like the Dolphins know too much to take that chance.Follow Gregg Rosenthal on Twitter @greggrosenthal.