Tackle Jake Long's absence from the lineup will help the Miami Dolphins decide whether to keep him next year.
Long hurt his left triceps in the first half of Sunday's loss to New England, and the Dolphins fear he'll miss the rest of the season. That means Long might have played his final game for Miami, because he can become an unrestricted free agent this winter.
Rookie Jonathan Martin moved from right tackle to the left side to replace Long against the Patriots, and if he plays well in the final four games, the switch could become permanent.
Long, a perennial Pro Bowl tackle since being taken with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2008 draft, earns a base salary of $11.2 million this season. He would receive $15.4 million next year if the Dolphins give him a franchise tag. That's likely more than Miami will be willing to spend, given that Long has battled injuries for much of his career and has endured a disappointing season.
The Dolphins (5-7) have lost four of their past five ga...