How Can You Replace Jarvis Landry?

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: Jarvis Landry being held back by temmate Jesse Davis
MIAMI GARDENS, FL - DECEMBER 31: Jarvis Landry being held back by temmate Jesse Davis /

What happens if the expected loss of Jarvis Landry actual becomes a reality? Where does that leave the Miami Dolphins? How can a team replace four season of 100+ catches, a leader in the fan base and arguably the best player and only playmaker on a struggling offense.

The quick answer is you can’t.  The Dolphins are going into March with a tough decision to make, do you sign your best player to a contact that will take a large amount of cap space or do you use that cap space and allocate it to other positions of need.  If you do the latter, you need to have an in house candidate to replace him or better yet a plan of attack.

Rumors are circulating that the Landry is looking for a 13-Million-dollar contract per year.  Basically, looking for an 11 million dollar raise.  Yes, he’s young, he proven in the NFL, he makes a ton of catches, and his jersey is the best-selling jersey amongst his teammates.  Allowing him to walk or test the market will make all Dolphin fans nervous.   The truth of the matter, is that Landry is the best WR hitting the open market.  Once upon a time, the Dolphins shed out 12 million to Mike Wallace, as such, they would be silly not to match that exact offer and give it to Landry.

This current regimen drafted Leonte Caroo two years ago to see if he could eventually replace Kenny Stills or Landry and the truth is we haven’t seen what he can do.  If the pre-season provided the fans any insight, the hope is not justified.  Caroo would be the ideal in-house solution, alongside Jakeen Grant to replace Landry, if he does leave, but the combination of both players doesn’t make up the volume that Landry produced – at least on existing game tape.

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The draft would be the next evaluation point to consider, for a replacement, but there isn’t a Megatron or Julio Jones in this draft.  Look, the Dolphins don’t believe Landry is a number 1 WR since he plays inside.  You can’t compare Landry to Julio or Antonio Brown, because they don’t play the same position.  Landry doesn’t line up outside, but he is the Dolphins true number on receiver, as such, don’t believe what the media is posting, regardless of where he lines up, all teams know that the Dolphins are looking at Landry first.

Back to the draft, the best WR coming out this year, is Calvin Ridley from Alabama.  Ridley will be available at the 11th spot. Although, he’s the best prospect this year, teams won’t be making a call to jump up and grab him.  Courtlan Sutton is the next best prospect, he fits the mold that you look for as a legit number 1 receiver (6’4 215 lbs), but the Dolphins already have Devante Parker and shouldn’t invest another first round pick at this position. The Dolphins, have too many immediate needs to draft a WR in the first round.  The depth at wide receiver is not bad, and you could look at the following late round gems:

  1. J Moore (Maryland)– small but quick. Think Steve Smith, but without the nasty streak.  Each year contributed more and more, leading to a nice break out campaign last year.  Moore has the tools to run the middle of the field, but health would be a concern.
  2. Tre’Quan Smith (UCF) – strictly a move the chains type of WR. Think Brain Hartline, but consistent WR that will be available in the later round of the draft.

Free agency doesn’t look good.  There are a bunch of old or injured or still unproven talent available.  The best option is too look no further than another LSU product, Marqise Lee.  He’s the same type of player as Landry, but without the production and is the ideal back up plan. You couldn’t find a better replacement and would cost you 75% less than what Landry is looking for.   Kendall Wright could be the break in case of emergency option – as he has ties to the Dolphins new OC, but doesn’t possess the same type of dynamic that Landry has on the field.

So If Gase is looking at all options, the best bet shouldn’t be to franchise tag Landry.  That cost will absorb too much of the cap.  There isn’t an inhouse replacement.  The draft looks hit and miss and the same can be said for free agency.  The best idea would be tag him with the transition tag, and place a 1st or 2nd round tender on him.  If you look at the cap capacity, there are a lot of teams that can offer Landry the 14 million he is seeking, and this way  the return will allow the Dolphins not to be left at the alter.

The majority of Dolphin fans want Landry back – he’s home grown, developed and plays with fire.  The Dolphins made two unfortunate contract extensions last year to two players that joined the team on one-year deals (Branch and Alonso)– what type of message will be shown if you don’t sign a player you drafted and developed for four years?   There is a chance that not resigning will create chaos in the locker room, attracting players and the program in general.  That’s the risk that Gase needs to assess before making a decision.