“I’m finally healthy” was the refrain spoken by NFL star Jake Long this week. Long, the former No. 1 overall pick of the Miami Dolphins, is seeking a new team after spending an injury-plagued season with the Atlanta Falcons in 2015.
According to ABC News, Long feels he is ready to regain his Pro Bowl form after struggling with injuries for the past several seasons.
“I’m finally healthy. This is the healthiest and best I’ve felt in probably about five, six years. My knee’s back. I’ve just been working out, feeling good and ready for the opportunity when it comes along.”
Jake Long was a dominant offensive lineman at the University of Michigan, earning Consensus All-American honors in 2006 and 2007. Long was thought to be a future pro superstar when he was taken with the top pick in the 2008 NFL Draft, and during his first four years in the league, he seemed well on his way to fulfilling that potential.
The St. Louis Rams won the bidding war for Long, and he signed a four-year deal with the club worth $36 million. Unfortunately, Jake Long’s stint in St. Louis was littered with injuries and disappointment.
Long tore the ACL in his right knee during his first year with the Rams and suffered a repeat occurrence of this devastating injury in 2014. Due to his inability to remain on the football field, St. Louis released Long after the 2014 campaign.
Jake Long remained unsigned until the start of the 2015 NFL season when the Atlanta Falcons took a chance and signed him to a one-year contract. Long was never completely healthy last season, and as a result, barely played for the Falcons (he saw spot duty in four games, missing the other 12).
The fact that Jake Long missed most of last season may have been a blessing in disguise for the six-foot-seven, 315-pound offensive tackle. The time away from the game gave him a chance to rehabilitate his injuries, and he seems to be trending in the right direction.
“When I wake up and my knee doesn’t hurt, you know what I mean. I feel the strength back. You can see it. You can feel it. My body feels good the way I’m moving, working out and how good I feel moving on it. It’s as easy as that.”
NFL reports that Long has piqued the interest of several teams since becoming available as a free agent. The Chicago Bears invited Long to come in for a workout, but that has not resulted in a contract offer to date. The New York Giants showed interest in Long last summer, bringing him in twice before ultimately deciding to pass on him.
In a league where quality left tackles are at a premium, there should be additional interest in Jake Long this off-season — assuming his declaration that “I’m finally healthy” is accurate.
At 31-years-old, Jake Long does not have much time left to resurrect his career in professional football. At this point, most teams will see him as damaged goods; he will have much to prove if he is to convince an NFL team that he is worth signing.
“I’m finally healthy” claims Jake Long. We’ve heard this before from NFL players on the mend, but most of the time, those players are unable to regain their form after suffering multiple severe injuries. Do you think Jake Long will be one of the few exceptions? Which NFL team do you think will roll the dice on the talented offensive tackle?
[Photo by Jeff Haynes/AP Images]