The Jarvis Landry Situation Is Complicated
One month ago I thought it was an easy decision to give Jarvis Landry a contract extension before the start of the 2017 season. Damarius Bilbo, the agent for Landry, roughly one month ago said if the Dolphins couldn’t give Landry an extension prior to the start of the 2017 NFL Regular season that they would not entertain any contract talks during the season and Landry would play out the year and become a free agent. Was it a bluff? Was Bilbo serious? We don’t know and we may never know as now it seems all of the leverage has shifted in any talks to the Dolphins side of the table.
What once looked like a slam dunk that the Dolphins would do anything and everything in their power to keep Landry as a member of the Miami Dolphins organization long term isn’t so much of a sure thing now as we sit in mid-August. So what has changed you asked? The answer is a lot and there are 3 key things that weren’t the same one month ago this time.
1) Landry is being investigated by the NFL for a Domestic Violence Situation
From the bits and pieces of news that has come out about this “situation” it seems Landry did nothing wrong and has not and will not be formally charged with any crime. Remember though in today’s NFL that means little to nothing in regards to a suspension being handed out. Ben Roethlisberger in 2010 was suspended for 6 games (later reduced to 4) for violating the leagues personal conduct policy. He was never charged with a crime yet the league still suspended him. Ezekiel Elliot just this week was also suspended for 6 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and Elliot is fighting the suspension but he will not win and at best will only have the suspension reduced like Roethelisberger did. You see the NFL, per the CBA, is the judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to who they let play and who gets a suspension. Fair or not it is the way the league is run and the players have agreed to said terms via the CBA.
I have no idea what Jarvis Landry did or didn’t do on that night in March when he and the mother of his child had an argument. The police aren’t going to be filing any charges and the female involved even signed an affidavit stating Landry never touched her or put her in any harm. The thing is though, that affidavit means next to nothing to the powers that be in the NFL. The NFL has their own “investigation team” that is run by ex-Police Sergeants, ex-FBI agents, and retired police officers and they are the ones who the NFL listens to. Not local police and signed affidavit’s mean little to nothing to them. And these investigations go on for a long time, this will not be something that is resolved in a month or a couple weeks. This investigation could go 9 months to a year. The Elliot investigation is proof of that.
If Landry does get suspended at some point this year or after this year that damages and hurts his leverage in any negation with Miami or any other team. And if your the Miami Dolphins who have tried and been successful in cleaning up the teams image of malcontents since Bullygate and the days of that clown Brandon Marshall; one has to wonder if they want to invest big money in Jarvis Landry now? Look just to be clear and so there is no confusion, the Dolphins will also do their own investigation and if they feel Landry is 100% innocent, they will feel comfortable giving him an extension in time. But until the Dolphins investigation and the NFL’s investigation is complete, Landry and his agent most likely will not be getting any contract extension offers anytime soon. This is a black cloud that will hang over Landry until the situation is totally resolved which might be many many months from now.
2) The Salary Cap Space Just Isn’t There At This Time
The moment Ryan Tannehill re-injured his knee and went down and the Dolphins were forced to sign Jay Cutler (or any other quarterback for that matter) a large chunk of the Dolphins $17 million or so in cap space went away in the blink of an eye. In fact $10 million of it went right into Jay Cutler’s back pocket. So even if you took away the domestic violence issue that is hanging over Landry at the moment and just pretend Miami believes its a big “nothing burger” and they wanted to extend Landry, doing so at this moment would be difficult salary cap wise.
Currently the Dolphins are roughly $7 million under the salary cap and they might need to spend a chunk of that on a linebacker to replace Raekwon McMillan who is now lost for the year, or maybe a guard to replace the injured Ted Larsen, or maybe another defensive tackle as Miami is very thin at that position and well Jordan Phillips just isn’t playing at the level the organization needs him to play at. To break the bank and give Landry an extension right now isn’t good for Miami in the short term or long term. It would be best to take a wait and see approach and see 1) If Landry can get beyond this investigation the NFL is doing on him. 2) If he continues to produce at a high level to warrant a big contract. 3) What Miami’s salary cap situation looks like in March and what players might be let go to create some cap space that could be spent on Landry.
3) Miami Has Tremendous Depth at the Wide Receiver Position, is Landry needed?
Heading into training camp we all knew Miami was deep at the wide receiver position. I mean they have Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills, and Devante Parker. Stills is coming off a 9 touchdown season and he just got a long-term deal from the Dolphins for big bucks so he is going no place anytime soon. DeVante Parker is entering year number three and is poised for a big year as from all reports he has taken his offseason training more seriously and is a new man with a new mindset. Not to mention if he does have a good season and takes it to the next level, Miami will have to announce if they are picking up the 5th year option on his contract in a year and that will cost Miami roughly $13 million or so for that 5th year. So the question then becomes if Miami has big bucks tied up with Stills and Parker, can they pay another wide receiver like Landry big bucks? How much money can they tie up into one position on this team? Will Landry be the odd man out?
Now one month ago myself as well as the vast majority of Dolphins fans would have said after those top three WR’s Miami has nothing behind them and no way to replace Landry should he leave. Well, a lot has changed in the past month to say the least. For one Leonte Carroo is tearing it up in training camp and caught a big touchdown in the first preseason game. He, like Parker, has dedicated himself this offseason and has a new mindset and taken to a new training to get in better shape. Isiah Ford was a 7th round pick from this past years draft Miami is very high on until he injured his knee. Jakeem Grant has improved his play at WR greatly this offseason and has been playing the position well in practice so far. Grant is showing he is more than just a punt returner to say the least. Damoreea Stringfellow who was tearing it up in the SEC the past couple years just caught a 99 yard touchdown vs Atlanta and he has physical tools that can’t be taught with his height, size, and catch radius. Heck we still have Drew Morgan and Frances Owusu who have been playing outstanding football this summer that I haven’t even spoken about yet.
The point being Miami has plethora of young and talented WR’s at the moment and one has to wonder who is going to be the odd man out? Landry isn’t going anyplace this season but after this year when his contract is up will Miami want to pay him $13-$15 mill per season with an extension, franchise tag him and pay him even more money than that for just the 2018 season, or just let him walk and replace him with one of these young guys who is making the league minimum? Then go use that money they would have spent on Landry to pay a defensive tackle in free agency or maybe another linebacker.
I am not saying that these young kids are as good as Jarvis Landry, that would be idiotic and silly. Landry is twice the player most of those kids are and might ever will be. What I am saying is with Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker already making big money at the wide receiver position for the Dolphins and neither are going anywhere any time soon, do the Fins really need to invest in a third big money wide receiver when this franchise clearly has options at a much cheaper price who could be suitable replacements? Thus allowing Miami to allocate money at other positions of need. Miami has options now at wide receiver they may not have known about a month ago with the way these kids are playing.
If you asked me one month ago if Jarvis Landry, whether before this year or after this year, would get a contract extension or have the franchise tag be placed on him I would have said with 99% certainty the answer is YES. As we sit today in early August I don’t feel that confident anymore. With all of the news that has come out, with the way the young wide receivers are playing in this training camp, with the Dolphins salary cap situation that has recently changed for the worse, I can’t say for certain that Landry is back next year. If I had to put a percentage on it today I would say it’s no longer 99% and more like only 50% Landry is on this team next season.
How this Jarvis Landry situation plays out over the next few months will be very interesting to monitor. What will the NFL investigation show and how will the NFL act and is a suspension coming? Does DeVante Parker have a breakout year and solidify his spot on this roster for years to come, possibly damaging the chances of Landry coming back? Will one of these young wide receivers who nobody believed in one month ago rise above the rest and show themselves to be a reliable NFL player and give Miami more options and cheaper price at the wide receiver position? A lot has changed in the past month regarding Jarvis Landry and it will be interesting to see how this all plays out.