Pretty much every comment that comes from Jarvis Landry or the Dolphins while a potential new contract is in negotiation is nothing more than posturing as one side tries to save a little money and the other pushes for as much it can get.
But there’s one statement that resonates. It’s something Landry said on the final day of the season, and the Dolphins know he’s right.
“I want to be here,” he said. “If not, I’ll find a way to be successful elsewhere.”
He will be successful elsewhere. Count on it.
Landry’s career is off to a great start, and he’s only 25. He’s going to put up many more excellent seasons. The only question is whether the Dolphins are smart enough to make sure those happen in their uniform.
Ultimately, it seems highly likely Miami and Landry will reach a deal that works for both sides, and the team still has the franchise tag and transition tag in its back pocket if necessary. But it should never come to that. It shouldn’t have even come to this.
The Dolphins need Landry more than he needs them, because there should be a line of attractive suitors for him on the open market. He’s going to get his money whether it’s here or, as he said, elsewhere. It’s far less of a certainty that Miami will be able to find another Landry.
Go ahead and nitpick him, but he’s been the most talented player on this offense. Imagine where the Dolphins would be without him. Now imagine where they could be if they keep him and add some more quality pieces rather than scouring free agency and the draft for a replacement while watching him make the Pro Bowl every year for somebody else.
Landry has more catches in the first four seasons of a career than any player in NFL history at 400, and no one else has even topped 350. He’s got 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns, including a career-high of nine last year. The Dolphins’ offense only had 28 in total, by the way.
They’ve already gotten their discount on Landry by getting all that for a grand total of $3.5 million. Now he wants to be paid like a No. 1 receiver because he is a No. 1 receiver.
Landry’s production is especially impressive considering he’s done it with Ryan Tannehill, Jay Cutler and Matt Moore as his quarterbacks. Tannehill’s been a league-average quarterback, no one else in the league wanted Cutler this season and Moore seems to have played his way off the team heading into 2018.
Speaking of Tannehill, it’d be interesting to hear his thoughts on Landry’s value. He’s been every quarterback’s emergency option the last few years, and Dolphins quarterbacks seem like they’re always in an emergency. Is Tannehill going to miss a guy who always seems to be open, catches 70 percent of the balls thrown his way and proved this year he can be a red zone dynamo?
Landry plays slot receiver as well as anyone in the game, but he’s also got the ability to surprise a defense by going deep and he filled the void created by Miami’s dearth at tight end by catching a league-high 18 passes in the red zone. Only Jimmy Graham caught more touchdowns in that part of the field.
It won’t be easy to find another Landry. Why would the Dolphins even want to put themselves through the headache when they can lock up the prime of his career right now?
Maybe it’s because Landry can be a handful at times. Perhaps that’s a fair criticism, but tolerance for that is always directly tied to talent. Lawrence Timmons straight up disappeared the day before a game and he was back in the starting lineup two weeks later.
For the most part, especially over the past year, Landry’s handled himself fine. Getting ejected from the season finale is his most egregious offense, and that was inexcusable. The issue isn’t that it’s such a big deal to get thrown out late in a meaningless game against the Bills, but whether Landry possesses the restraint to avoid that kind of episode when it counts.
The only other noticeable incident on the field came when he let loose on Adam Gase on the sideline late in the Kansas City game, but Gase is comfortable with that kind of work environment and dismissed the confrontation as a non-issue.
“To me, it’s never a big deal,” Gase said at the time.
Landry was also investigated for a domestic incident, but was not charged and received no discipline from the NFL. He and his girlfriend said he did nothing wrong.
In the cutthroat world of the NFL, none of those things are going to put a dent in his market value. If Miami doesn’t want to commit $15 million or so annually for four or five seasons, other teams will be lining up to do it.
Beyond that, he’s carried himself the way the Dolphins want. Specifically, he watched them rain money all over the place in free agency a year ago while bypassing an extension for him that would’ve avoided this entire miss and never caused a problem publicly.
Landry showed up for every offseason practice, reported to training camp on time and spoke positively about his relationship with the Dolphins at every turn. On the eve of the season, as he was set to take the risk of playing for about $1 million with nothing guaranteed beyond that if he got hurt, he said he was totally at peace with it and wasn’t going to let his contract status get in the way of what he or the team wanted to accomplish.
It’s time for the Dolphins to cut the nonsense and keep this from getting messier than it already is.
They need him.
So pay him.
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