With the start of free agency looming ever closer, the Miami Dolphins have made their first real move of the offseason, placing a non-exclusive franchise tag on impending free agent wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The tag - as it stands - essentially means that - unless a long-term deal is reached - Landry will play for Miami in 2018 with a cap hit of around $16 million dollars.
While the team could just stand pat and move into the season with that in place (after making the necessary cuts to put the franchise under the salary cap of course), this move is more than likely being used as a means to keep other teams from negotiating with Landry during the combine which is notoriously known as the "illegal tampering period."
By using the non-exclusive tag, it allows Landry to sign an offer sheet with another team, but the team that signs him would owe the Dolphins two first-round picks, which is almost guaranteed to be a price that is far too steep for any team to pursue him in the offseason.
Back in January, Landry spoke to the Miami Herald and stated that he felt the negotiations had been "a bit disrespectful" by that point.
“I displayed I was a team guy,” Landry told the Herald a month ago. “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.”
It seems more than likely at this point that the Dolphins are wanting to sign Landry to a long-term deal, and this move buys the team more time to negotiate with their top wide receiver without other teams meddling in their affairs. But there is still the possibility of Landry being traded to another team, and Miami can always rescind the tag if things completely fall apart between the two sides.
There's no doubting what Landry brings to this team, his energy and fire is unmatched on the roster and his determination and will to be great has led him to great things. Staying in Miami would mean a lot to the Dolphins, hopefully this move is a sign that Landry will remain in Miami for years to come.
But even if that isn't the case, this move almost completely ensures that Landry will either play in a Dolphins uniform in 2018, or the team will get some real compensation for letting him go, rather than simply letting him walk out for free. It's a sure win-win for the franchise here, so give credit to the front office where it's due.
This story was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung