The Miami Dolphins kicked off NFL franchise-tag season Tuesday by slapping what's believed to be the non-exclusive tag on slot WR Jarvis Landry, which would pay him slightly more than $16 million in 2018 should he play on the one-year tender.
Landry, a second-round pick in 2014 who earned $3.5 million on his rookie deal, will receive a monster raise under the tag or a new multi-year contract, whose baseline is likely in the neighborhood of at least $30 million guaranteed. There's no question Landry deserves a big raise after setting the NFL record for receptions by a receiver in his first four seasons (400), along with amassing 24 total touchdowns and 4,157 yards from scrimmage.
Landry is also arguably Miami's most consistent player and inarguably one of their top competitors, the offense's emotional leader who plays every snap like it's his last. But his 10.1-yard career catch average and lack of speed (4.77 40-yard dash) limits Landry to playing inside and complicates his bid to become one of the game's highest-paid wideouts over the long haul.
That the Dolphins reportedly used the non-exclusive tag on Landry signals he could be available via trade, but there's no way another club is parting with multiple first-rounders for a slot receiver, however prolific, and then handing the 25-year-old the lucrative deal he's seeking. That would be bad business, especially ahead of a deep WR draft that should offer some similar prospects to a player who was the 63rd overall pick four years ago.
Indeed, Landry seems to be worth more to Miami than he is to most other clubs. With DeVante Parker yet to fulfill his promise entering a potential contract year and plenty of other uncertainty on offense with Ryan Tannehill returning from injury and other changes expected up front, Miami ultimately decided it isn't getting better in 2018 without Landry locked up.
And we agree. Whether the two sides can reach a long-term agreement prior to the July deadline is unclear, but only one season removed from the playoffs, the Dolphins absolutely need Landry if they're to again exceed expectations and return to contention in 2018.
Miami currently has only $8 million in cap space, and it'll require some tightening of the belt merely to pay Landry, never mind any other moves the club expects to make over the coming months. That might make some observers miffed at the decision to franchise a slot receiver with a lot of money already allocated to Parker and Kenny Stills.
We get it. But letting their best draft pick in at least five years escape for only a 2019 compensatory pick in return and getting worse along the way would be even more confounding.