The Miami Dolphins have around $46 million in salary cap space this offseason, poised to strike hard and rapidly improve the team. One of the reasons they have so much room under the cap is the number of players with expiring contracts at the end of this league year in March. One of the biggest names in that group is former number one overall pick, left tackle Jake Long, who the team has repeatedly said they would like to see return next year, but may be destined to don a new jersey for the first time in his NFL career.

The Dolphins look at Long and see a former four time Pro Bowler, who is not playing up to that level anymore, and has ended the last two seasons on injured reserve due to arm injuries that required surgery. The team also sees Long's history of injuries with his knees, back, and shoulder. All of that means the team does not want to pay him in the elite tackle levels.

However, Long's camp still sees him as a player who missed the Pro Bowl for the first time in his career this year, and can point to his injured reserve stint as to why he was not selected. Prior to his season ending injury, Long was leading the league in fan voting for the position. Long has been compared to Cleveland Browns tackle Joe Thomas throughout his career, with the debate over which one of the two was the best tackle in the game. Thomas signed a contract extension with the Browns in August 2011, giving him $84-million over seven years, with $44 million guaranteed.

It appears that the Dolphins and Long may be far apart in what they are considering "fair value" for the tackle to return to Miami next year. According to the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson, the Dolphins are starting to get pessimistic about working out a deal with Long. The Dolphins offered Long a contract extension during the season, according to various reports, but Long rejected the offer, which he reportedly felt was a "lowball" offer. According to Jackson's sources, Long is looking for a deal in the $10 million per year.