The Miami Dolphins could soon be off the clock.
The Dolphins have formally begun contract negotiations with agent Tom Condon about the prospect of selecting former Michigan offensive tackle Jake Long as the first overall selection in this year's draft.
Condon, who also represents Boston College quarterback Matt Ryan, was in South Florida early this week to negotiate specifically on behalf of Long at the request of the team, The Miami Herald has learned.
The Dolphins would like to have a contract in place with their first pick before the draft on April 26, which would allow them to avoid a potentially ugly holdout like the one that took place in Oakland last year upon the Raiders' selection of quarterback JaMarcus Russell.
Miami is still intrigued by Virginia defensive end Chris Long, but no in-person talks between Chris Long's agent and Miami are believed to have taken place to date. However, the Dolphins are believed to be happy with quarterback John Beck, and they are not considering Ryan as an option with the first pick.
The latest meeting between Condon and the team doesn't necessarily mean the Dolphins have made their final decision to select Jake Long over Chris Long, but it is certainly a major step in that direction.
By selecting Jake Long, the Dolphins would fill a gaping hole along their offensive line. Vernon Carey is currently slated as the starter at left tackle, but selecting Jake Long would potentially allow the team to move Carey back to his more natural position on the right side of the line.