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Are the Dolphins cooling on Jarvis Landry?

Oakland Raiders v Miami Dolphins Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry led the NFL with 112 receptions during the 2017 regular season, a total that also reset Landry’s own franchise record for catches in a season. His 400 career receptions is 26 catches shy of the record for receptions in a player’s first five seasons, and Landry has only played four seasons at this point. He is a catching machine, and he is a fiery member of the Dolphins’ offense.

But, could that fire be turning off the Dolphins? After all year hearing how the team was committed to bringing back Landry, who is scheduled to be a free agent in March, and Landry saying he wants to remain a member of the Dolphins, things seem to have changed a little, at least from the Dolphins’ side of the equation.

During Wednesday’s end-of-year press conference featuring head coach Adam Gase, general manager Chris Grier, and Executive Vice President Mike Tannenbaum, Landry’s status became a topic of discussion, and the trio did not seem as determined to bring back Landry heading into 2018.

“We’ve really just started the evaluation of our team,” Grier said when asked how high a priority Landry’s re-signing is in the offseason plans. “Through the season, we’re always focused on our opponents and doing that. And the coaching staff, they’ll get that done and they’ll start looking at the players over the season and writing it up; but with all of our players, we’ve talked about the guys that we want to keep are our guys we know we’ve developed and had here. Jarvis is one of many players that we’ll be talking about over the next couple of weeks.”

Landry is just one of the many guys being discussed?

Tannenbaum was then asked for his level of optimism in getting a long-term deal completed with Landry. He replied, “Any negotiation we wouldn’t comment publicly, but as Chris (Grier) said, philosophically we want to draft, develop and keep as many of our own as possible. We’ll see what happens with Jarvis and a few other noteworthy free agents. In a perfect world, we keep them all. There’s a salary cap, so we’ll make those decisions at the appropriate time within the context of what’s best for the organization.”

The cap has always been there, but now it is being cited as a reason keeping Landry might not be what is best for the Dolphins?

The conversation turned toward Landry’s on-field emotions, specifically the blow up that led to him being ejected with over six-minutes remaining in the team’s season finale against the Buffalo Bills. Gase explained, “I think this last game was probably the … I think that was the pinnacle of what I’ve ever seen with him during a game. I know there’s been times where some of those guys kind of got in the mix a little bit; but I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get to a level where it was extremely bad. Last game, that was about as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s just something that we can’t have happen. Whether people think we weren’t in the game or it was garbage time or whatever it was, all I know is we were in the game and we’re going on our last drive of the game and two of our best players on offense aren’t in there. That was very, very frustrating to watch and standing there, not being able to do anything. We need way better control from our best players in the heat of the moment.”

Ouch. Embarrassing and needing way better control. Not a ringing endorsement.

Gase was then asked to discuss Landry and what the Dolphins would look like without him. The coach responded, “I wouldn’t go into hypotheticals of what we would look like without him. I know that he’s had a lot of production, done what – as far as what we asked him to do – this offense kind of works with him well and suits him well. We’ve probably wanted to use him in different ways to where we could stretch him down the field a little bit on certain concepts. We haven’t always been able to get to it or I know he has had probably three or four big plays down the field taken away from penalties, whether it be a holding call or something that has gone wrong in those areas. He does kind of fit our system really well. Those three guys work well together, when we’ve got all three of those guys healthy and we’re rolling pretty good. For us, it’s more of a consistency thing and just keeping those guys going right and staying ahead of the sticks, so we can give those guys opportunities.”

That sounds a little better, but still, the Dolphins do not seem to be as high on re-signing Landry as they had been. Was it the blow up at the end of the Bills game? Has the trade of offers between Landry and the Dolphins recently made the team realize they cannot afford to keep the wide receiver? Are we reading way too much into a couple of statements at an end-of-year press conference after a losing season?

I believe the Dolphins and Landry find a way to get a contract completed. Both sides seem to want it to happen, but the Dolphins may be preparing for a situation where it cannot happen.