For the first four years of his career, Jarvis Landry plied his trade for the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins drafted Landry in the second round of the 2014 NFL Draft, then immediately made him a major part of their offense. Landry caught 400 passes over the first four years of his career -- an NFL record. Miami then franchise-tagged Landry rather than sign him to a long-term extension, indicating that they were not necessarily too confident in his long-term prospects, despite his prodigious production.
Soon after franchising him, though, the Dolphins elected to trade him. And while Miami had been a below-average team during Landry's time with the Dolphins (they ranked 20th in wins over the past four years, and 25th in point differential), they were not nearly as bad as the Browns. Cleveland won just 11 games from 2014 through 2017 -- eight fewer than the next-closest team.
So when he was traded from Miami to Cleveland, Landry at first viewed it as a punishment. "I just felt like, for some reason, Adam [Gase] sent me here to die," Landry told ESPN.com.
He wonders -- well, he knows -- that his strained relationship with coach Adam Gase didn't help. (Gase, through the Dolphins' public relations department, declined to be interviewed for this story.) They're too much alike, Landry says now -- two overly competitive people who wanted the same things but inevitably rubbed each other the wrong way. Like when the offense struggled and Landry put in his two cents on what they could do differently, it probably sounded like a player telling his coach what to do. But Landry only did it, he says, because he wanted to win.
"I used to talk to him about it," Landry says. "Can I be more of a leader? Can I stay after practice more? I'm trying to literally figure out what I can do to help us win, to help him understand that he could trust me.
"He wanted me to trust him, but he really didn't want to trust me."
There was a joke, Landry says, that Gase used to tell his players. If a guy got in his doghouse, he'd tell the player to straighten up or he'd ship him to Cleveland. The joke, according to Landry, is in reference to the infamous Jamie Collins trade. On Halloween day in 2016, Collins, a talented New England Patriots linebacker who drew coach Bill Belichick's ire, was sent from a Super Bowl team to a Browns squad that won one game in 2016.
Landry's tune has obviously changed since he landed in northeast Ohio, and he's been one of the defining figures of the Browns' run on "Hard Knocks" due to his inspirational speeches and penchant for "blessing" his teammates. "I've been working this offseason to put myself in place to earn the respect of all the Clevelanders," he told ESPN. "And to have the opportunity to be recognized as another great player that has touched the city of Cleveland."
Landry now says he wants to carry on the Cleveland legacy of LeBron James, which is obviously a high goal to shoot for, considering LeBron is arguably the best player in NBA history and is responsible for bringing Cleveland its first championship in 52 years. But anyone embracing being part of the Browns is a new and positive development for Cleveland, and this particular version of the team appears to be the franchise's most talented in quite a while. If Landry can help the Browns move forward, he'll likely earn the city's respect, even if he doesn't quite come close to achieving LeBron's exalted status.