Jarvis Landry is a Miami Dolphins wide receiver for 2017, just like he was in 2014, 2015, and 2016. In 2018, Jarvis Landry will be a Miami Dolphins wide receiver, no matter how much Twitter seems to think he is on his way out the door with the Dolphins. The panic over Landry’s status with the Dolphins exponentially increased on Tuesday when Damarius Bilbo, Landry’s agent, told the Miami Herald’s Barry Jackson that the Dolphins have not made an offer to Landry and that there is now a deadline on contract negotiations.
Except, there is no reason to panic.
The way Twitter reacts every time a mention of Landry’s contract is made makes it seem as though Miami is about to lose Landry. Except, Landry is under contract for this year.
And, if a new contract is not signed before free agency starts next March, the Dolphins have the option to use the franchise tag on Landry, keeping him in Miami.
Landry really will not be going anywhere.
Everyone wants to get a long-term deal completed. Landry wants to stay in Miami. The Dolphins want to keep Landry. And, clearly, the fans love Landry and want him to stay with the team. This will get done.
The problem is, there is no deadline right now to get a deal like this done. The NFL always works better when there is something that forces action. In this case, there is not one until next March. Landry has said he is not planning to hold out, his agent then backed it up telling Jackson, "Why get mad over something that he signed as a four-year deal? It is what it is. There will be no ill will. He has never considered a holdout. He would never consider not getting better at football."
The sexy bullet in articles about Landry’s current contract is that there are at least 100 other receivers in the league that will earn more than Landry in 2017. But, is that not the point of the rookie wage scale in the first place? Every analyst points out that teams need to get the most out of their rookie contract players when they are young and cheap. Now, the Dolphins are getting the most out of a rookie contract, and the story is that Landry is severely underpaid.
It is not an invalid point, but it is not one that really has any bearing on the Dolphins. Yes, Landry likely wants more money, but to act like the Dolphins are doing something wrong is incorrect.
Landry’s agent has placed an artificial deadline on contract negotiations, telling Jackson that they have no plans to negotiate during the regular season. He explained the decision, saying, “We want to respect the Dolphins. When the season kicks off, we want to continue to respect that. We don’t want every game to be about a new contract. This is not a tactic; that is not an approach. This is who Jarvis is and what he wants out of the upcoming season.”
Even the regular season deadline is not a real deadline. It is not Landry saying he will not return to the Dolphins if he does not have a new contract in place before the start of the season. According to his agent, this is a move to keep contract negotiations from being a distraction during the season. There does not appear to be any reason why, should a contract not get completed between now and the start of the regular season, a contract cannot be negotiated after the season and before the start of the free agency period.
Landry is expected to get somewhere between $10 million and $12 million a season whenever he signs his new contract. The franchise tag in 2017 for a wide receiver will likely be in the $15 million to $16 million range. Miami can find a way to keep Landry for 2018.
There is no rush to any of this right now. Landry is under contract for 2017 and Miami has options for 2018. Contract extensions like this typically happen during the summer, once players return for training camp. Take safety Reshad Jones as the example. Yes, he signed a contract extension with the Dolphins in March this year - but when did he sign the extension before this current one? August 5, 2013. August is when extensions happen. Not June.
Finally, why use the $18.3 million the team has in salary cap space right now (according to the NFL Players Association)? An extension for Landry would eat some of that space. The Dolphins will likely be looking to roll over as much of that as they can to create additional space for next year, plus could need around $5 million for in-season spending as they look for injury replacements. Keeping Landry’s contract as is, especially through training camp where an injury could be devastating, gives the team some flexibility to be able to sign someone else if the need should arise.
The Dolphins and Landry will eventually come to terms. The fact that they have not yet reached a deal does not mean they are going to lose their star receiver. It does not mean the team is doing anything wrong. Miami has plenty of options to make sure they keep Landry.