For the past three seasons, wide receiver Jarvis Landry has been at the top of the list in receptions and in yardage for the Miami Dolphins, and all on a deal that pays him almost nothing. Now, with one year remaining on his incredibly cheap rookie contract, which is only for four years and $3.5 million dollars, Landry took to social media and left some very telling captions on his posts.
Under normal circumstances, there wouldn't be much reason to take a player's posts on social media that seriously, but when Landry makes references to his money, especially when he's projected to be paid like a top ten wide receiver when his contract inevitably runs out.
This puts the Dolphins in a very uncomfortable situation, as a lot of money is about to be handed out to players whose contracts are expiring, such as defensive end Andre Branch, linebacker Kiko Alonso, tight end Dion Sims and fellow wide receiver Kenny Stills.
But what sets Landry apart from everyone else is that he is one of the true faces of the franchise and his intensity on the field makes him more than just another excellent wide receiver.
He's also a leader in the locker room, and the team feeds off his energy, which is why he was originally given the nickname of "Juice."
2016 was Landry's second consecutive 1,000 yards receiving season, and this will also be his second straight Pro Bowl season. Knowing all of that, there's no doubt that the rest of the team will be looking at what the Dolphins front office does about Landry's contract situation, because if they stiff him now, especially after the comments made by Executive Vice President of Football Operations Mike Tannenbaum, there will be a lot of players who will try to play hard ball when the time comes.
See Reshad Jones, who already held out portions of last offseason in protest of not having enough guaranteed money on his deal and wanted an extension.
"To have sustainability, we want to take care our own. We want to care of our locker room," Tannenbaum said last week. "Adam [Gase] always likes to roll his eyes, but I always say, 'Our plan is firmly etched in pencil.' Because things are going to change. We're going to acquire players. There are going to be unexpected opportunities. ... What does the draft look like? What does free agency look like? But with that said, we're going to try to lean heavily towards keeping our own and building our program here."
It's going to be difficult to not break the bank for Landry, who despite his determination, is still primarily a slot receiver and doesn't fit the mold of the more elite receivers in the league like Julio Jones, Dez Bryant and A.J. Green. He doesn't require double coverage and he isn't a top scorer in the league, only getting 13 touchdowns in his three seasons with the Dolphins.
A "move the sticks" receiver simply doesn't count for upwards of $14 million annually, no matter how well he can create plays when he has the ball in his hands.
Seattle's Doug Baldwin, another top slot receiver in the league, recently signed a 4-year, $46 million dollar deal that pays him $24,250,000 in guaranteed money, and that could be the aspect of the contract Miami can use to get Landry to take a slight discount in annual pay.
In the NFL, the overall figures of the deal don't mean nearly as much as the guaranteed money, which is the true value of any contract since that's what a team has to pay an athlete no matter what happens. Guaranteed money is what Miami can use to try and potentially lower the cap hits, as guaranteed money only means that Miami will have to pay him, not pay extra.
The reason NFL teams don't like to dole out large amounts of guaranteed money is because guaranteed money doesn't allow a team to cut a player in a cap-saving move.
But if there's any player worth that risk, it's Landry.
He's been the most reliable weapon on Miami's roster for the past three seasons, and his leadership and energy are indispensable assets that can't be replaced. Giving him a large amount of guaranteed money would seem to be a safe gamble, especially if it means his annual cap hit won't be as high.
Extending Landry would be an excellent way to start off the offseason, and it would set the tone for the rest of the offseason with the rest of the locker room.
If they force Landry to play the last year of his deal, that would be a bad omen for Landry's future with the Dolphins, and in turn the rest of the locker room. He won't try to cause problems, but teammates see how the front office treats their franchise player, and that could set the tone for the future.
Landry needs to be re-signed, or it could mean trouble for the Miami Dolphins franchise.
This column was written by Luis Sung. Follow him on Twitter: @LuisDSung
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