Barry Jackson

Landry says Dolphins’ handling of his contract was disrespectful. His agent explains why.

Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) is taken down by Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Preston Brown (52) during the Dolphins’ finale against the Bills on Dec. 31. Landry is an impending unrestricted free agent and the sides aren’t close on a new deal.
Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry (14) is taken down by Buffalo Bills middle linebacker Preston Brown (52) during the Dolphins’ finale against the Bills on Dec. 31. Landry is an impending unrestricted free agent and the sides aren’t close on a new deal. adiaz@miamiherald.com

Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry says his negotiations with the team on a new contract have been “handled a bit disrespectful” but he still would like to remain with the franchise if they can agree on contract terms.

The Dolphins made an offer to Landry’s agent, Damarius Bilbo, in early December and Bilbo made a counter offer in mid-December. The Dolphins have not yet responded to that offer, Bilbo said.

“I displayed I was a team guy,” Landry — who holds the NFL record for receptions in the first four years of a career (400) — said by phone this week. “I understand not going to OTAs and training camp would raise eyebrows.

“My agent and I talked about being a leader and setting a good example so I silenced all those things by going to OTAs and training camp, by putting the team first and being a team guy. I feel like in the NFL, they preach loyalty and family and they have none for you. As a player, you see it’s not a family during negotiations, how it becomes them versus me or me versus them. That’s part of the NFL I believe the fans don’t see.”

Though he said he understands the “business side of football,” he said the Dolphins’ approach “from the offer process until this point was disrespectful. I tried to handle it the right way and figured if a team values you and wants you to be a part of the team, why haven’t they answered [his agent’s counter-offer] in the past month?”

Bilbo said that the Dolphins have told him in the past couple of weeks — since the end of the season — that “they want him back.” Bilbo said there’s “still some distance” between their offers “but nothing time can’t fix. They made it clear the ball was in their court.”

Landry can become an unrestricted free agent in March, but Miami reserves the right to use the franchise tag (which would pay him about $16 million) or the transition tag (which would give the Dolphins the right to match any offer).

Bilbo wondered if criticism of Landry raised by Armando Salguero in a Miami Herald column this week might have come from the Dolphins as a way to gain leverage in negotiations. He said because coach Adam Gase and Dolphins executives weren’t quoted directly in the column, he doesn’t know for sure if that’s the case.

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.

Bilbo, who hasn’t said anything publicly about the Landry negotiations until this point, said “when there’s an open line of communication with the team, you dealt directly with them versus going to the media but when you read an article with these types of statements you have to come to address them.

“This is a leverage thing — someone trying to gain leverage by

devaluing him to the rest of the NFL. I’m not going to stand for that. If these [criticisms] were coming from the Dolphins they were unfair.”

Though Bilbo would not discuss contracts terms, it’s believed that Landry is seeking a contract in the range of the new deal recently signed by Green Bay’s DeVante Adams, which is four years and $58 million with $32 million guaranteed.

Bilbo addressed individual points in the Salguero column.

Salguero wrote the Dolphins “see a player who doesn’t pay attention to details.”

Bilbo’s response: “There’s not a player in the NFL who’s perfect. Gase is very specific in the depth of routes he wants. If it’s a five-yard route, I want you to go five yards, not four. Those are things to be handled in offensive meeting rooms. I can guarantee you every single player across the league has had those issues. Is it enough to go to media and call him out? Absolutely not.”

Salguero wrote the Dolphins “see a player who sometimes runs the right routes and sometimes doesn’t.”

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.

Bilbo’s response: “Players often have [missed assignments] and they sometimes have to improvise and get open when plays break down and QBs are taught to go to the next option if one isn’t doing his job. Jarvis didn’t catch 400 passes over four years by running the wrong routes.” 

Salguero wrote the Dolphins “see a player who sometimes inspires with his emotions, but sometimes loses control and hurts his team.”

Bilbo’s response: “Don’t confuse passion with distraction. He has always been a passionate player. Some players are OK with losing. Jarvis isn’t like that. Passion for the game is something you can’t turn off.

“He only knows how to go one speed … if it’s catching a tough ball across the middle or when he throws his body to block a 250 pound linebacker. You can’t say he’s a distraction when he’s giving up his body for the team or laying everything on the line for his team. Football is an emotional game and Jarvis has always been the emotional leader of the Dolphins and did the dirty work which he sometimes had to pay for, literally.”

After Landry was ejected in the Buffalo game for what was announced as “disrespecting the official” and unnecessary roughness, Gase said publicly: “This last game was probably the pinnacle of what I’ve ever seen with [Landry] during a game. I don’t think I’ve ever seen it get to a level where it was extremely bad. But the last game was about as embarrassing as I’ve seen in a long time. It’s something we can’t have happen.”

But Bilbo said Gase has never mentioned any concern about that incident to him or to Landry.

“You had a guy who had hands around Jarvis’ neck,” Bilbo said of the Bills player that Landry subsequently head-butted. “The Dolphins never said you have to change. [But] Gase has every right to voice his opinion. We don’t get offended by those comments, especially when we have to take accountability for our actions.”

Salguero wrote the Dolphins “see a player who doesn’t lead in the locker room although he’s in a great position to do so.”

Bilbo’s response: “Jarvis has always been a person to lead by example. Some people lead vocally, some lead by example. Jarvis practices hurt. He’s leading by example. Just because you’re not leading the way people want you to lead doesn’t mean he’s not a leader.

“They want him to show more leadership with the younger receivers and things like that. In terms of leadership, he’s a work in progress. The Dolphins have one of the youngest position rooms in the entire league and Jarvis has to continue to grow into the position.

He’s done everything in his power to be more vocal.”

Salguero wrote the Dolphins “see a player who doesn’t seem to respect his coaches because he often ignores what they ask. They see a player who has been, in the words of multiple sources, ‘a pain’ to deal with and ‘hard to reach.’”

Bilbo’s response: “There’s a very public incident and example in terms of Jay Ajayi being traded. Gase is a strong coach that came in and implemented a certain culture where if that was in play here, Jarvis would have been fined or suspended. He’s been fined by the league but he has never been fined by the team. Has he been late a couple times? Absolutely. All of these statements in the article seemed like you can’t attack Jarvis on the field so the next step is let’s make him look like a distraction or cancer in the locker-room. That’s not fair.”

What does Landry think of all this?

“I’ve got so many mixed emotions,” he said. “I am at peace. I understand the situation. Regardless of if I am a Dolphin next year or not, my hard work will pay off.”

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