Miami Dolphins

If popularity was a deciding factor, Jarvis Landry would already have a new contract

Jarvis Landry was one of two Dolphins Pro Bowlers in 2017.
Jarvis Landry was one of two Dolphins Pro Bowlers in 2017. AP

Jarvis Landry has long been and even now remains the Dolphins’ most popular player.

Crowd reaction shows it.

Twitter chatter reinforces it.

His three Pro Bowl appearances amplify it.

But now we have undeniable evidence that, if the Dolphins let Landry walk in free agency, which is more than possible, they will be losing their biggest star.

The NFL Players Association has released its player merchandise rankings for the 2017 season, and Landry is the only Dolphin to crack the top 50.

Landry ranked 36th this past season, one spot ahead of Rams running back Todd Gurley and one behind Packers linebacker Clay Matthews.

The two best-selling players last year were Dallas Cowboys: quarterback Dak Prescott and running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady generated the third-best selling merchandise in the NFL.

Of course, Adam Gase, Mike Tannenbaum and Chris Grier are running a football team, not a popularity contest.

Miami Dolphins coach Adam Gase talks about the Fins' bizarre season and Jarvis Landry's ejection after their final game of the season, a loss to the Buffalo Bills.

And fan preference will rank pretty far down the list when they decide Landry’s free-agent value.

His projected future production, his fit within the franchise, the market and the team’s salary cap structure are all of greater importance to the Dolphins’ football decision-makers.

But what about the business side? Certainly losing Landry would hurt the bottom line, right?

Probably not.

Merchandise revenues are pooled and split evenly. So, remarkably, the Dolphins make as much off a sold Brady jersey as they do from a Landry sale.

Now, suite and club seating sales are a different story, and it’s possible that some deep-pocketed Dolphins fans will take their business elsewhere if the team runs off its No. 1 star.

But it would take a ton of like-minded Landry fans to boycott the Dolphins to come close to making up for the $14 million per year he wants in free agency.

A postscript: If popularity was a factor in Gase’s decision whom to sign or keep, then Jay Ajayi would still be in aqua and orange.

Ajayi, traded to the Eagles midseason, ranked 49th in merchandise sales last year.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry talks to the media about the scrum that got him ejected from the Fins' game against the Buffalo Bills at Hard Rock Stadium.

Adam H. Beasley: 305-376-3565, @AdamHBeasley

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