Capitals

Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

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Dolphins fear Long's arm injury is season-ending

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) 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 games, and their already slim playoff hopes might be quashed Sunday, when they play at NFC West leader San Francisco. So the timing's right to start thinking about next year.

Aside from addressing the situation at left tackle, upgrading the offense will be the priority, and the 23-16 loss to New England reinforced that notion. The Dolphins are averaging 18.9 points per game, sixth worst in the NFL.

``It's hard to win a lot of games scoring that many points,'' coach Joe Philbin said Monday. ``It probably would stand true in high school football.''

And now the Dolphins are prepared to move forward without their star offensive lineman.

`If that's the case, we'll go to work and get five guys ready to go up front,'' Philbin said. ``He has been an excellent leader. He's a valued member of the offense. However, injuries occur with every team. Ours is no different.''

Martin, a second-round draft pick, protected Andrew Luck's blind side as a left tackle at Stanford. He has started every game this year at right tackle, and Philbin said the rookie fared well after Long went out.

``He did a good job. He played well,'' Philbin said. ``He has a bunch of reps in his history from college playing over there. Here he doesn't get a lot of repetitions over there, but I thought he made a good adjustment in the middle of the game.''

Nate Garner, who has nine career starts, took over at right tackle.

Long has missed only two games in five NFL seasons. He was chosen a Pro Bowl starter each of the past three years and was a front-runner to be selected this year.

``He has been a good player for a long time, and he's the leader on the offense,'' quarterback Ryan Tannehill said. ``So it's tough to replace him.''

Even so, Long has become a less dominant blocker as his injuries accumulate. He was slowed by an ankle injury as a rookie and hurt his shoulder in 2010. Last year he battled back trouble, then missed the final game with a torn right biceps. He missed practice time this season because of a right knee injury.

Revamping the line would present yet another challenge for an offense that has sputtered. Tannehill ranks 31st in the 32-team league in passer rating, and Miami ranks 21st at 3.9 yards rushing per attempt.

A little more production might make a big difference, because five of the seven losses have been by a touchdown or less.

Against New England, the Dolphins totaled only 277 yards. Tannehill went 13 for 29, the third time he has finished below 50 percent, and twice missed an open Brian Hartline deep.

``You can't play the coulda-woulda-shoulda game,'' Hartline said. ``But they were big plays, and to beat a team like that, you have to make those kind of plays.''

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Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

Stanley Cup Final 2018: Who could win the Conn Smythe Trophy?

The Stanley Cup is not the only trophy that will be awarded at the end of the Stanley Cup Final series between the Washington Capitals and Vegas Golden Knights. The Conn Smythe will also be given to the player deemed the most valuable to his team during the playoffs.

Who will that player be?

It's not hard to figure out who the frontrunner is right now. Marc-Andre Fleury hasn't just been the best goalie in the playoffs, he's been the best player with a dominant postseason in which he has posted a .947 save percentage and four shutouts. He has been so dominant, he could win it even if Vegas loses the series.

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

The last player from the losing team to win the Conn Smythe was Jean-Sebastian Giguere from the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 2003.

But what about the Caps?

Alex Ovechkin is the leader of Washington and has been absolutely dominant throughout the postseason. He even scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Surprisingly, however, Ovechkin does not lead the team in points through the playoffs. Evgeny Kuznetsov holds that edge with 24 points to Ovechkin's 22.

Will their offensive dominance propel them to win the Cup and the Conn Smythe? Will a different player emerge as the hero of the series?

See the top contenders for the Conn Smythe heading into the Stanley Cup Final here.

MORE CAPITALS PLAYOFF NEWS:

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Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

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Associated Press

Need to Know: A closer look at Alex Smith's contract with the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 26, 17 days before the Washington Redskins start minicamp.  

Note: I am vacationing in the Outer Banks this week. In this space, I’ll be presenting some of the most popular posts of the last few months. I hope you enjoy these “best of” presentations and I’ll see you folks when I get back. 

Contract makes Alex Smith a Redskins for at least three seasons

This post was originally published on March 19. 

When the Redskins traded for Alex Smith on January 30, news also broke that he had agreed to a four-year extension with Washington in addition to the one year left on his contract with the Chiefs. While we got some top-line numbers on the deal, we have gone since then without any details. 

Until now. 

The details show a deal that has a slightly higher cap hit in 2018 than was on his original Chiefs contract and the numbers rise gradually over the life of the deal, which runs through 2022. 

Smith got a $27 million signing bonus and his salaries for 2018 ($13 million) and 2019 ($15 million) also are fully guaranteed at signing making the total $55 million (information via Over the Cap, which got data from a report by Albert Breer). 

But there I another $16 million that is guaranteed for all practical purposes. On the fifth day of the 2019 league year, his 2020 salary of $16 million becomes fully guaranteed. He almost assuredly will get to the point where that money will become guaranteed since the Redskins are not going to cut him after one year having invested $55 million in him. So the total guarantees come to $71 million. 

His 2021 salary is $19 million and it goes up to $21 million in 2022. There have been reports of some incentives available to Smith but since we have no details we’ll set those aside for now. 

The cap hits on the contract are as follows: 

2018: $18.4 million
2019: $20.0 million
2020: $21.4 million
2021: $24.4 million
2022: $26.4 million

The Redskins can realistically move on from Smith after 2020. There would be net cap savings of $13 million in 2021 and $21 million in 2022. 

The first impression of the deal is that the Redskins did not move on from Kirk Cousins because they didn’t want to guarantee a lot of money to a quarterback. The total practical guarantee of $71 million is second only to Cousins’ $82.5 million. It should be noted that Cousins’ deal runs for three years and Smith’s contract is for five. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler