The Miami Dolphins’ overriding message to the public out of the NFL Scouting Combine is they want to keep wide receiver Jarvis Landry. This message is being delivered effectively and directly by the Dolphins themselves.
More or less.
The Dolphins this week have gone to lengths to tell folks they expect their best wide receiver and franchise player to play for the team this season. The problem is important folks around the NFL aren’t believing them.
Coach Adam Gase was asked directly Wednesday if Landry will be part of the team in 2018. This is a softball question Gase should crush. The Dolphins franchised Landry, meaning they value him at $16.22 million this season and any team wanting to sign him needs to pay significant compensation to both the player and the team.
That’s the reason getting the franchise tag means a player stays with his original team, like, 99 percent of the time.
Except that Gase equivocated.
“Yeah, if it works out the way we’ve kind of looked at things,” he answers. “Really, that’s why we franchised him. We’ll just kind of see how it goes.”
And over the next few hours I hear from NFL personnel people and read national media accounts and everyone comes to the same conclusion:
Landry is gone if the Dolphins can find a trade partner.
“I’d love to play poker with Adam Gase,” one NFL personnel man says. “I don’t think he’s very good at bluffing.”
A high-ranking member of an NFC front office texts:
“The Dolphins leave no doubt Ryan Tannehill is their QB but you have to see how it goes with Jarvis? LOL.”
Fine, so maybe that’s a cynical view from rivals. Maybe Gase is giving himself wiggle room because this is a contract matter and executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum handles those while Gase handles on-field issues.
So Tannenbaum can say if Landry will be on the team or not in 2018. And Tannenbaum is asked that directly on his regular ESPN West Palm Beach radio interview Wednesday.
Does Tannenbaum plan on Jarvis Landry being a Dolphin in 2018?
“Anything we’ve talked about between us and the agents, those conversations will remain private,” Tannenbaum says. “We looked at our options and felt franchising was the best way to go. We’ve had a lot of dialogue with his agents, we have a lot of respect for Jarvis and his agents, and those conversations will remain confidential.”
Is that a yes or a no?
He is speaking but not saying Landry will or won’t play for the Dolphins in 2018.
Understand that Tannenbaum is direct and informative when he wants to be. In this very radio interview he’s asked whether he thinks former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson is a quarterback or a wide receiver.
The question obviously rises because former NFL personnel man and Pro Football Hall of Famer Bill Polian said weeks ago that Jackson should give up the idea of playing quarterback and move to wide receiver.
“We see him as a quarterback and someone that’s just going to go through the process like everyone else,” Tannenbaum says.
See that? A direct answer.
And my guess is Tannenbaum is comfortable with that because he’s not trying to hide anything on the topic.
But ask about Landry, and the Dolphins go into collective organization freak.
Anyone with any sense of discernment sees this — including the national media.
This is how NFL.com analyzed what Gase meant when he said the plan was to keep Landry:
“Dolphins coach Adam Gase said that he’d like Landry on the team next season, if possible. This is not what you normally hear about a player who just got the franchise tag. Most tags are given with the assumption that the player is staying put. Gase couched all his comments about Landry as if his status was uncertain, only furthering the belief that Landry is available to the highest bidder in a potential trade.”
The problem, which the Dolphins have crafted, is they would like to trade Landry if they find a suitable trade partner. But they’re walking a tightrope.
They don’t actually want to admit they want to trade Landry because that might drive down the asking price and it might alienate the player if no trade partner is found and he returns for one more year.
On the other hand, the Dolphins don’t want to say definitively Landry will be on the team in 2018 because that’s simply not true.
You know where that leaves the team?
Doing a balancing act they are obviously uncomfortable executing.
Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero