NFL free agency rumors: Dolphins will replace Jake Long with FA tackle

Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Jake Long is off to St. Louis, leaving a glaring hole on the Dolphins left side of the offensive line. Who will Miami find to replace him?

The Miami Dolphins are looking to address their left tackle vacancy through free agency now, according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald. Jake Long agreed to a four-year, $36 million contract with the St. Louis Rams, leaving the Dolphins in search of his replacement for next season.

Long was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 NFL Draft. After starting at left tackle for four straight seasons, his tenure with Miami came to an end after ongoing contract disputes.

Jonathan Martin is the obvious candidate to fill Long's spot on the left side of the offensive line. He started four games at left tackle as rookie after Long was placed on injured reserve last season. Martin was also a long-time starter at left tackle during his years at Stanford. While the Dolphins plugged him in at right tackle his rookie season, Martin constantly expressed interested about switching sides on the line.

If the Dolphins are comfortable with starting Martin at left tackle, Eric Winston would be a smart choice to sign at right tackle. Winston has experience with zone blocking and would easily provide a reliable starter for Miami. The two sides reportedly been in touch during free agency.

Andre Smith and Sebastian Vollmer are two of the top remaining free agents at right tackle. Smith put in his best season with the Bengals in 2012, but hasn't drawn much interest so far on the open market. Vollmer recently underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee, and along with ongoing back problems, his injury concerns may be scaring the Patriots away from signing a long-term deal. Vollmer did start 15 games last season, though.

Bryant McKinnie could also sign as a left tackle and keep Martin on the right side. Salguero doesn't believe he's a first option for head coach Joe Philbin.

Winston seems the most likely option at this point. With Martin's desire to play left tackle and Winston's experience in a similar system, signing the 29-year-old right tackle creates a good situation for everyone in Miami.

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