Adam Gase was only being honest. No one can knock him for that. Still, when the Miami Dolphins coach said last November that wide receiver Jarvis Landry was his team’s “best player on offense,’’ his bosses probably cringed.
It’s not that they don’t agree, but when a player on the verge of entering a new contract negotiation hears praise like that, he tends to dig in his heels in an effort to ensure he gets paid like he’s the best player on offense.
That’s where Landry is now. He’s dug in. Not to the point where he’s threatening to hold out of training camp, but he’s got a price in mind for what the best player on offense is worth and he’s sticking to it.
There’s no confirmation on that price, but word is the fourth-year pro is seeking a new deal that will pay him slightly north of what Colts sixth-year wideout T.Y. Hilton is making from the contract he signed two years ago.
That makes sense. After all, in August 2015, Hilton signed a five-year, $65 million extension that pays him an average of $13 million a year, and Landry can argue that since then he has at least played on a par with Hilton.
While Hilton has caught 160 passes for 2,572 yards and 11 touchdowns over that span, Landry has caught 204 for 2,293 and eight touchdowns. He has also continued to contribute on occasion to the running game whereas Hilton has not.
The likelihood then is that Landry will settle for nothing less than a four- or five-year deal that pays him an average of at least $14 million a year and includes a guaranteed payout in excess of $20 million.
The baseline on what Landry is likely to seek in the guarantee was set earlier this year when the Dolphins signed deep threat Kenny Stills to a four-year, $32 million deal that includes a guaranteed payout of $19.95 million.
That signing was one in a flurry in which the Dolphins’ objective was to retain several of their core players, including safety Reshad Jones, linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive end Andre Branch.
That trio received contracts that included healthy guarantees as well. Jones was given $35 million in guarantees, while Alonso and Branch received guarantees of $18.5 million and $16.8 million, respectively.
That next move, of course, would be to sign Landry, but there’s no way of knowing when that will happen, in part because his agent, Damarius Bilbo, says he will stop negotiating once the regular season starts.
Again, there’s no threat of a holdout coming from Landry’s camp, but Bilbo told several reporters recently that come Sept. 10, he wants his client and the Dolphins to concentrate on football.
That makes sense, too. If Landry can turn in another season like either of the last two, he could easily earn himself a raise on the salary figure he’s seeking now. Of course, there’s also some risk involved in that approach.
An injury or a down year could cost Landry not just millions but the long-term stability he wants. There’s incentive then for Landry to get a deal done sooner rather than later, which isn’t necessarily the case with the Dolphins.
If a new deal isn’t reached before the start of the 2017 season opener and negotiations are indeed halted at that point, Landry will play out the year for Miami at the bargain-basement price of $893,852.
That’s good for the Dolphins, and what may prove to be even better for them is to wait on re-signing Landry until after the coming season, when slapping the franchise tag on him will become an option for them as well.
Such a move would result in the Dolphins paying Landry somewhere in the neighborhood of $17 million in 2018. That’s more along the lines of Antonio Brown money, but there’s an advantage that would come with that. The Dolphins would of course retain Landry’s rights while still being able to negotiate a long-term deal, and in the case of injury or a down season in 2018, they still might be able to get Landry at their price and not his.
The disadvantage, of course, is that a move of that nature could turn what now appears to be a very amiable negotiation process into an acrimonious one that will sour what is currently a great relationship between team and player.
That’s something the Dolphins are probably wary of. They know they’ve got someone special in Landry, and just as they did with Stills, Jones, Alonso and Branch, they want to do what’s right by him.
Gase has all but admitted as much. He was just being honest once again, but back during the scouting combine he said it’s important to “do the right thing’’ contractually for his core players.
And as Gase has said, at the core of that group, at least on offense, is Landry.
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