For months after the end of last season, the people I spoke with about the Miami Dolphins’ approach to top receiver Jarvis Landry’s contract situation always talked about when not if they would sign their top receiver to an extension.
Landry obviously is a productive receiver as his two Pro Bowl appearances the past two years and 288 catches the past three seasons suggest. He brings a passion to the field the team doesn’t want to lose. And he’s home-grown, having been drafted in the second-round of the 2014 draft.
The issue, it seems, was always the timing of getting a deal done. And first it was about getting more pressing matters done, such as free agents about to hit the market. Then it was about getting other players extended, such as linebacker Kiko Alonso. Then it was about adding players in free agency and drafting. Then it also became about Landry not embarrassing the Dolphins with an offseason or minicamp holdout.
And so far so good.
Except training camp is about to open with veterans reporting Wednesday and the first practice on Thursday. And not only does Landry not have a contract extension but he hadn’t even gotten an offer from the Dolphins last I heard late last week.
So why the apparent delay?
Well, let me explain as best I’ve been able to piece together ...
1. It’s not a delay. The Dolphins want to sign Landry to an extension. Landry obviously wants an extension because like the rest of us he likes having money -- and preferably American dollars because that is the greatest currency on the planet.. But, again, Landry is under contract. There is no tripping point that forces either party to get an extension done in the next few days or even this season because what we’re talking about is an extension not a deal to keep the player in Miami.
2. Landry is going to be in Miami for a while even without a new contract extension. He has to play for Miami in 2017 because he’s under contract. And next year when Landry is scheduled to hit free agency, the Dolphins can use the franchise tag on him and keep him for about $15 million. By the way, they could lay the tag on him again the following year, too, although the cost of that might become prohibitive. But worst case sceanario, Jarvis Landry will be tied to the Dolphins two more seasons even if he doesn’t get a contract extension.
3. The Dolphins are treading very, very, very carefully because they understand how valuable Landry is. They understand how much he can potentially be worth. But they also have a duty to their salary cap well-being to try to keep costs down. So they can’t just blow Landry away with an initial contract offer.
But, and this is perhaps the most important reason why an offer has not yet been put on the table, the Dolphins also do not want to insult Landry with their first move.
The team understands that their passionate receiver is a passionate person. He has a certain self-worth. He demands respect. And the last thing the Dolphins want is to start negotiations with Landry with a low-ball offer that could immediately cause Landry to tune them out or worse ...
...want to no longer be part of the team.
People within the Dolphins organization have had experience while working with other organizations that low-balled players with initial offers. And that caused some of those players to want out. The Dolphins do not want that to happen with Landry. They don’t want Landry to be offended and want out or even feel less than fully invested in being part of the team in ‘17.
But here’s the thing: The Dolphins also don’t want to lay down for Landry’s representation with a high offer that becomes a floor to the negotiations when it’s meant to be so much more than that.
So, yeah, there’s a happy medium here -- a financial sweet spot, if you will -- and the Dolphins are trying to identify it and operate there without insulting a good player or putting themselves in a negotiating disadvantage.
You might say, well, this is the case with all negotiations.
Some players take things more personally than others.
Some players recognize this is a business operation and not a statement of love. Some players, on the other hand, take contract negotiations very, very personally.
Guess which one Landry likely is ... Yeah, the emotional leader of the Miami offense is very much closer to the latter.
So the Dolphins are doing homework. Laying groundwork. Trying to make everyone involved in the looming negotiations understand that this business. When that work is complete, my sense is then something will begin to happen on the Jarvis Landry contract extension front.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero