It’s been a bad few days for Jarvis Landry’s hopes of getting a contract extension and, for the most part, it has nothing to do with anything the Miami Dolphins wide receiver has done wrong.
Specifically, three issues have surfaced that -- like it or not, fair or not -- will hinder Landry getting an extension this season at all. That’s right, I said whether he gets an extension at all is a thing.
I explained to you weeks ago some reasons the Dolphins and their star receiver had not even exchanged contract offers. Well, here we are weeks later and, last I heard (over the weekend), the sides had still not really gotten to any serious negotiation.
And this: It used to be people on either side of this pending negotiation would talk about an extension in terms of when they happen. Lately, the words used are if they happen.
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The point is, don’t be surprised if Jarvis Landry does not get a contract extension this season at all.
So what are the issues affecting this non-negotiation lately?
Well, the Dolphins this week lopped $10 million off their salary cap space, for one. When the team signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a one-year deal with $5 million in base salary and a $5 million guaranteed roster bonus (due and paid on Wednesday in fact), it not only lost that $10 million in cap space this year but also committed to losing that space and possibly more in 2018.
Remember, unused salary cap space can be carried over and the Dolphins have taken advantage of that carryover for years and years. As that $10 million is now being used, it cannot be carried over to 2018. So the Dolphins will have at least $10 million less cap space next year than they otherwise expected.
And there’s a possibility Cutler’s addition this year could actually cost more than $10 million because he has $3 million in incentives.
Cutler gets $1 million if he plays 75 percent of the downs and the Dolphins go the playoffs.
Cutler gets another $1 million if he plays 75 percent of the downs and the Dolphins win a playoff game.
Cutler gets another $1 million if he plays 75 percent of the downs and the offense finishes top 10 in total touchdowns.
So if all those incentives are met, yes, the Dolphins will have had an amazing season. But Cutler will cost Miami $13 million in cap space next year because money they would have otherwise carried over will not be there.
Anyone who’s ever juggled grocery money (I grew up in a family that did it every week) understands that money spent on one item means you cannot spend it on another item.
Cap space the Dolphins are devoting to Cutler now cannot be used on Landry.
The second reason the Dolphins are not motivated to kick start these negotiations also showed itself in the past week: Jarvis Landry is practicing very well and sometimes great.
Landry has attacked the first two weeks of training camp like a boss. He’s engaged. He’s fighting to improve. He’s usually paying attention to details -- not always, but usually.
It’s as if he’s trying to prove something to the team and himself.
And the Dolphins absolutely love this.
Prove-it Landry is a beast.
But to keep Landry in that mode, the Dolphins probably don’t want to make any moves. The Dolphins probably want to keep him right where he is. And you don’t always give a guy a contract extension to possibly change a very motivated and hungry player’s mindset.
In this regard, Landry is doing a very good thing for the team and himself. He’s making both better. But he’s also kind of ensuring that his employer won’t want to make a move.
Landry is also stuck. I know many of you thought to yourselves, ‘Well then Jarvis should simply walk out or whine or become a burden to get the team to offer him something as appeasement.’
He really cannot do that because the Dolphins have already made it clear with multiple players that it will not reward bad behavior. It will not feel compelled to offer Landry anything other than fines if he walks out or stops practicing hard or becomes a locker room issue.
So Landry is boxed in. He can cause an issue and get nothing. Or he can continue to practice great and improve himself and the chances of having a great season -- but still not get an extension.
The third issue: There’s a feeling outside the team that the Dolphins would be foolish to reward Landry with an extension at the exact time he’s under investigation by the Broward County District Attorney for a possible battery on his estranged girlfriend, who is also suing him for paternity monies.
That feeling is not shared within the team and coach Adam Gase, asked about it this week, made it clear one has nothing to do with the other.
Landry, meanwhile, has been working hard to get the issue which has been in play since the spring over with.
“I’ve been very upfront with the team,” he said Tuesday. “I’ve been very upfront with the law enforcement. I’m here at training camp to help my guys get better. I don’t want any bad attention to me, this organization, Adam , nobody.
“ I don’t believe this is the place for it or the time for it. I think, again like I said, I’ve been very upfront with the team and I’ve been very upfront with the law enforcement. I put that in their hands and that’s really all I have to say about it.”
The problem here is it’s not in the hands of the Dolphins or Landry. And perception is reality. So would the Dolphins do an extension with a player under investigation for some alleged domestic battery?
That would raise eyebrows. It would be bad timing.
Better timing would be to wait until Landry is cleared -- as folks within the organization believe he will be -- and then the extension issue can move forward. That’s common sense.
All that said, however, we have to come back to this: The team and Landry have had plenty of time to get an extension done. The Falcons and running back Devonta Freeman today completed work on a five-year, $41.25 million extension. And Freeman was drafted in the fourth round of the same 2014 draft in which Landry went in the second round.
But despite time to get the work done it is looking more and more like that extension for Landry might not happen at all this year. And the last few days didn’t help.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero