The Miami Dolphins can succeed without Jarvis Landry
By Brian Miller
Nothing has spurned more water cooler debate this early off-season than talk of Miami Dolphins’ Jarvis Landry and Landry’s contract situation. Whether he stays or goes, the Dolphins will survive.
Miami has a lot of problems on their roster that translates to the field. Lack of depth, leadership, direction, discipline, and positive consistency. It all adds up to notches in the loss column. And Jarvis Landry has been a part of that inconsistency.
When it comes to reliability there is very few NFL players as consistently good as Landry. He has developed into more than a simple slot possession receiver as shown in 2017 with his nine touchdowns. His consecutive team record-breaking reception totals is also nothing to discount.
For all the accolades and positives that Landry brings to the team, the reality is this. Landry isn’t a quarterback. He isn’t a ball-hawking safety or a run stopping linebacker. Jarvis Landry is a slot receiver. It’s easy to fall in love with him as a player. He has that rare passion that never ends. His love for football is clearly evident. When given the chance to not report for a new contract, Landry chose to play out the final year of his deal. Risking his health and future on the potential windfall free agency could bring.
This is where the Dolphins and Landry don’t see eye to eye. Landry believes that he is worth $14 million a season. As the salary cap rises year to year players are asking for more because more is available. Landry can not however get caught up in the numbers that are being thrown around the rest of the league.
Contracts that reach the $60 million plateau or a $50 million benchmark are not accurate. Only the guaranteed money is. If Landry wants a showboat number, Miami should offer him a $100 million deal with $30 guaranteed. But Landry doesn’t want a showboat deal. He wants real money.
$14 million in the NFL can buy a lot. It can buy a starting caliber linebacker for $8 million and still have another $6 million to spend on a starting guard. It can be used to add quality depth across the board.
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Miami has a lot of cap problems because they have not been diligent in their spending. Bad contracts for Kiko Alonso and Andre Branch stand out. A bad contract for Ryan Tannehill who had yet to show anything more than potential was a problem. Miami is now sitting on $19 million of cap space because of it. Another $26 million is allocated to Ndamukong Suh.
Miami has one playoff appearance to show for it all and that was in 2016.
So why is Landry expendable? The simplest answer is this. He is replaceable. For all his talent he is simply replaceable. He is not an A.J. Green or an Antonio Brown. He isn’t a Julio Jones. He is a Julian Edelman. A Wes Welker. Great players but players that can be plugged in to any offense and if used right will succeed. In other words, he is replaceable.
The truth hurts. Jarvis Landry is a great guy and a fan favorite but is he a game changer? Sometimes. All the time? No. Do opposing teams put their best players on him to cover? No. As a result his catch totals continue to rise. Why? Because he is a slot receiver with a ten yard range. Nothing more.
Without Landry, his 112 catches will be redistributed. Redistributed to other wide-receivers or even his own replacement. The one thing Landry has that the others don’t is great hands. He rarely drops passes but are those hands worth $14 million per season? No.
In reality Landry is a $12 million a year receiver at most. Anything more than that makes no sense. Maybe $13. Landry is one of my favorite players and nothing would make me happier than to see him sign an extension to stay in Miami. There is a future Hall of Fame type player here. A player who is very much like Anquan Boldin with the potential to be better. The problem is salary.
NFL salaries have risen so much that they have become detrimental to teams trying to turn the corner and get back into annual contention. For the Dolphins this is a big problem. Overspending on average talent has left them with little options to spend on a great talent.
If Landry walks the Dolphins will be fine. Fans may not be and seeing Landry on another team will not go over well on Sunday’s. Nor will watching his replacement drop passes. In the end this is a business. Both for the Dolphins and for Landry. I would let him hit the market, see what he is offered and decide if it is worth it to match. If he goes then there is nothing to do but move on.