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Dolphins-Long deal a win-win for both sides

Jake Long and the Dolphins cleaned up Tuesday, producing a win-win deal (which is how negotiations should work).

Now it's time to clean up all the information nuggets they left behind.

» It's a win-win deal for both sides for various reasons. Miami wanted Long to sign a discounted deal compared to the one that last year's No. 1 overall pick, JaMarcus Russell, who signed a six-year, $61 million deal that included $29 million guaranteed with Oakland; Long's deal came in at $57.5 million, including $30 million guaranteed. Factoring in inflation, it is less expensive than last year's deal -- a win for Miami. But Long's deal is only five years, meaning he is one season closer to free agency. True, Miami will have the right to franchise him after five years, but the shorter deal has to be considered a victory for Long. Each side wins, which is the sign of any successful negotiation.

» With the deal for Long, the Dolphins now have taken an offensive lineman in all 43 of their drafts. Offensive line is the only position in which the Dolphins have taken at least one player in all 43 drafts, including AFL drafts. This time, it seems that Miami got it right.

» The AFC East quickly has become the Left Tackle Capitol of the NFL. Now that Miami has signed Long, take a look at the left tackles that populate the division. New England has Matt Light, whom Long considers the left tackle he has most closely studied; the New York Jets have D'Brickashaw Ferguson, their No. 1 pick from the 2006 draft; and Buffao has Jason Peters, widely regarded as perhaps the premier young left tackle in the game.

» Once it identified Long as its choice, Miami never wavered. The Dolphins never talked to another player about becoming their No. 1 pick -- not Virginia defensive end Chris Long, not Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, not Ohio State defensive end Vernon Gholston, not LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey. For the past two weeks, Miami has been going Long. Literally.

» Even with players such as quarterback Tom Brady, cornerback Charles Woodson, and guard Steve Hutchinson, this marks the first time in 67 years that the University of Michigan has produced the NFL's No. 1 overall pick. Last time it happened was 1941, when the Chicago Bears drafted Tom Harmon, who chose not to play professional football. But Michigan sure has produced some first-rate offensive linemen: Hall of Famers Dan Dierdorf and Tom Mack, Bubba Paris, Reggie McKenzie, Jumbo Elliott, Jon Runyan, Hutchinson and now Long.

» Suspense still surrounds the first day of Miami's draft. The Dolphins still are scheduled to pick 32nd -- the equivalent of the last pick of the first round in other years -- and 57th overall. It's a great opportunity for Miami to add a linebacker and a guard, if it decides it doesn't want to reunite Long with Michigan quarterback Chad Henne. Still, drafting Long was a clear-cut vote of confidence for last year's second-round pick, quarterback John Beck. If the Dolphins give him another by not taking a quarterback on Saturday, Miami will establish it firmly believes in Beck.

» A good sign for the Dolphins: Long is the fifth offensive lineman to be drafted with the No. 1 overall pick. Two of the others -- Ron Yary and Chuck Bednarik -- are in the Hall of Fame. Orlando Pace, a third, is on his way there. And the only offensive lineman drafted No. 1 overall who is not in Canton, or on his way there, is Ki Aldrich, whom the Cardinals picked with the No. 1 pick in 1939.

» The St. Louis Rams, scheduled to pick No. 2, are on the clock. LSU defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey has tremendous support in St. Louis, and Virginia defensive end Chris Long has some. It's up to the Rams to make the pick.

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» Asked last week about Long, Browns general manager Phil Savage -- who picked offensive tackle Joe Thomas last year with the third overall pick -- said, "Jake Long is a lock to be a Pro Bowler at right tackle."

Strong words there from Savage. But he didn't stop there. Asked how Long compared to his tackle, Thomas, Savage said: "They are similar in terms of intangibles coming from big programs and successful teams in the Big 10. If you were going to lean Joe (Thomas) one way or the other, he leans more towards left tackle. I think Jake (Long) leans more toward right tackle.

"Not to say that either couldn't play the opposite side. That's the biggest question teams have to ask, if you take Jake Long in the top-5, you almost have to say he'll be your left tackle and that was the question we had to ask, if we take Joe Thomas off the board he's got to be out left tackle.

"I think Joe's a little more athletic than Jake. I think Jake had more of a physical road paver type block then Joe in the run game. They're both kind of cut from the same cloth and you know what you're getting in Jake Long. He's going to be a 10-plus year pro, be durable and line up pretty much every Sunday. He's one of the more solid players in the draft in terms of you're not going to swing for the fence and miss."

The Dolphins swung. They went Long.

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