Here’s an aspect of the Jarvis Landry story that needs more attention: There’s a decent chance that Landry is not traded and actually plays for the Dolphins this season, either under a new contract or on his $16 million franchise tender.
Those are three of the four options the Dolphins have with Landry, who was poised to hit free agency on March 14 until the Dolphins placed the one-year tag on him. The other (far less likely) possibility: They rescind the tag altogether.
But Dolphins coach Adam Gase at the NFL Scouting Combine Wednesday spoke as though he wants, hopes — and even expects — Landry to be a member of the team again in 2018.
“Really that’s why we franchised him,” Gase said. “We’ll just kind of see how it goes.”
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The Dolphins and Landry’s agent, Damarius Bilbo, had a meeting set up Wednesday evening to discuss just that.
Gase shed little light on where the negotiations between the two sides stand — team and agent have exchanged offers, but Landry wants more than the Dolphins are willing to commit long-term — but Dolphins brass are exhausting all options this week to either retain Landry on a manageable extension or find a trade partner.
“We’re not going to get in a big rush just because everybody wants to figure out what’s going on,” Gase said.
The Dolphins raised eyebrows last week by not only franchising Landry, but doing so on the first day possible.
“We knew [what] we were going to do,” Gase said. “We weren’t sure when the best timing was for us. We just decided to do it on that first day. We felt like that was the best thing for us to really, for him to know that that’s there. We’ll just kind of see how this plays out.”
Landry and Gase have not talked since the season ended, the Dolphins’ third-year coach acknowledged.
So that means the two men have not communicated since Gase called Landry’s behavior in the season finale — the receiver was ejected for instigating an ugly brawl with the Bills — “about as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time.”
Gase declined to answer when asked what he would say to Landry about his future with Miami, if they did speak.
“Since the season’s ended you can’t do anything,” Gase said. “You can’t really talk to your guys. If you see them in passing you can’t talk any football.”
On the surface, franchising Landry puts the Dolphins in a financial bind. They had salary cap issues before adding his $16 million to their total. And while they will get some relief if they, as expected, cut Julius Thomas and Lawrence Timmons, that will leave them just $4 million under the projected salary cap, according to Over The Cap.
That is not a concern internally, however. The Dolphins actually budgeted in a way that they can still be active in free agency, even if Landry’s cap commitment is not reduced. Furthermore, the team has enough future space that they can keep their top three receivers — Landry, Kenny Stills and DeVante Parker — long term, if they want.
Granted, that is a huge commitment at one position, and if a team offers the Dolphins fair compensation for Landry (and presumably negotiate a multi-year contract), a trade could happen. And if it does, the Dolphins will have to figure out a way to replace a player who caught more passes through his first four seasons (400) than anyone in NFL history.
“I think anytime you have a player that’s really been elite at his spot, if that guy’s not there — we found this out last year, at least we felt at the quarterback position — it makes a big difference and you have to make adjustments,” Gase said. “That’s why we’re trying to make sure we put this team together the right way. Right now we’re at that standstill where we can’t do anything. We’ve got the next 14-15 days until we can actually do anything.”