Armando Salguero

Promising DeVante Parker-Jay Cutler combo affects Jarvis Landry contract situation

PHILADELPHIA -- If you’re wondering why the Miami Dolphins and Jarvis Landry’s representation still haven’t hammered out a long-term contract that pays the team’s top receiver the past three seasons like, well, he’s their top receiver, all you have to do is think back to Thursday night’s preseason game.

In that game in which the Philadelphia Eagles beat the Dolphins, 38-31, we saw quarterback Jay Cutler throw a 72-yard completion to receiver DeVante Parker. Well, it was actually something more like a 40- or 45-yard pass that Parker, seemingly covered, jumped up and over Philly cornerback Ronald Darby to snatch.

Then Parker gathered himself and sped up the sideline for another 30 or so yards before being caught from behind at the 2 yard line.

That play speaks to why Jarvis Landry hasn’t gotten a new contract, why there are no proposal exchanges going on, and why the talks are more likely to get serious after the 2017 season.

So, why?

Because the Dolphins see what we all see. They see that Parker has had a great offseason, is having a very good preseason, and might be about to deliver a breakout regular-season.

And if Parker, who will be in the contract situation next year that Landry is in this year, does all that is being suggested, the Dolphins need to make sure they pay him like a No. 1 receiver to keep him in Miami. And that might mean Landry gets less than No. 1 receiver money he wants.

Because you cannot pay everyone like they’re No. 1 receivers.

Parker -- assuming he fully blossoms -- has the size, speed and other traits that are harder to find than Landry’s. So he becomes the priority.

Obviously, this is all conjecture. No one can say for certain Parker will finish the coming year with 80 catches for 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns. But what if he does?

The Dolphins need to be able to have the financial flexibility to reward him like he’s a No. 1 receiver. And they might not have that ability if they commit No. 1 receiver money to Landry now.

So basically the Dolphins are playing a waiting game. They’re waiting for the facts of the 2017 season to come in before going forward.

There’s no harm in this generally speaking because if Parker does not ball out the Dolphins could still circle back and pay Landry like he’s their No. 1 receiver.

I will say, however, all the signs are pointing to Parker indeed delivering in 2017.

Firstly, he is clearly new quarterback Jay Cutler’s favorite receiver. Cutler says he picked out Parker the first day he stepped on the practice field with the Dolphins.

“Day One,” Cutler said. “I mean, you watch him run, you watch him move, you watch his ability with the ball in the air and you kind of know what you got pretty quickly with that kind of talent.”

Cutler has played with Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery -- big receivers -- and he thinks letting them make plays is great for, well, everybody.

“I’ve had them over the last 12 years,” he said. “I’ve usually just had one. [I’ve] been able to play with them, so I know what they like and they can make life pretty easy on a quarterback.”

This a little different than how Ryan Tannehill approached things. Tannehill threw to receivers when they were open and generally when the coverage dictated he go to them. He liked the certainty of throwing to Landry, who was his go-to guy.

But Cutler throws to guys even when they seem covered. Even if there’s double coverage. He takes more chances because he gambles his receiver will win against the defensive backs.

And Parker, who stands 6-3, benefits from that.

"I found out that he likes to throw it deep, whenever he gets the chance,” Parker said of Cutler. “He likes tall receivers and guys to go up and high-point the ball and come down with the catch for him."

And that’s perfect for Miami’s tallest wide receiver.

"Yeah, it's a good connection we have with him,” Parker said. “I like how he has trust in us to go up and make a play and come down with it...

“...I'm going to hopefully continue that connection with him.”

If that connection blossoms, we might be seeing a new No. 1 receiver for the Dolphins. And that’s a significant reason the Dolphins are waiting before paying Jarvis Landry like he’s their No. 1 receiver.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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