Any receiver who sets the record for most catches in the first three years of their career should be an obvious re-sign candidate, right? For the Miami Dolphins, maybe not.
Jarvis Landry has added tremendous value for a second-round pick in his first three seasons, leading Miami in receptions in each campaign.
However, as the 24-year-old enters the final year of his rookie contract, the Dolphins reportedly haven’t shown much interest in keeping him around. Landry and his agent have set a deadline at the beginning of the season to cut off contract discussions.
“I want to focus,” Landry said, according to Omar Kelly of the Sun Sentinel. “I believe that Miami is where I want to be. Miami is the place I call home. I want to be able to give my all mentally, physically, and emotionally this season.”
According to Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald, the Dolphins haven’t yet made Landry a contract offer, with training camp set to open July 26.
While it may have seemed like a foregone conclusion that Miami wouldn’t let Landry walk after becoming a star and a leader of its offense, there’s evidence to suggest no contract offer is coming.
His role decreased throughout the 2016 season as first-year head coach Adam Gase gradually installed his offense and play-calling style. Landry made 46 of his 94 catches in the first seven games of 2016, and made more than six catches in a contest only twice in the final nine games, in which Miami went on a 7-2 run to finish the season.
The LSU product’s high catch total is an impressive feat, but he hasn’t shown the big-play explosiveness Gase prefers from his receivers. Also, part of the reason for the high number of targets has been that his fellow pass-catchers haven’t been so central to the offense.
Landry has been a wizard out of the slot in his short career, giving Ryan Tannehill a target in the middle of the field on key downs. But Gase prefers to use his tight ends in that role, and traded for one of his former Denver Broncos pupils, Julius Thomas, this offseason.
The Dolphins gave Kenny Stills a new contract in March worth $8 million per year for the next four seasons. With 2016 first-round pick DeVante Parker reportedly lighting up OTAs and having the more typical physical tools of a No. 1 receiver, Landry may no longer be a luxury the Dolphins can afford.
For Landry, sticking with Miami and the only situation he’s known in the NFL may be his preference now, but hitting the open market would be a blessing for the slot specialist. Landry, like any young talent, can make more money pitting bidders against one another than negotiating with one club.
If his entertaining skill set isn’t appreciated by Miami, there will be plenty of suitors for his services. He could go back to Louisiana and join Drew Brees’ stellar passing attack, or head up to New York to team up with his best friend, Odell Beckham Jr.
It may seem unconventional to let a player as young and productive as Landry leave for free agency, but in this situation, it may make sense.
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