In what can best be described as a curious move, the Dolphins used the franchise tag on Jarvis Landry Tuesday, which means the wide receiver will make $16.2 million in 2018. If that sounds exorbitant, it is; in terms of total cash, Landry will be the NFL's second-highest paid wideout behind only Antonio Brown.
Yes, Landry had a career-best 112 receptions and nine touchdowns last season, but he managed just 8.8 yards per reception. In terms of value per play, he wasn't even replacement level, ranking 59th among all receivers, according to Football Outsiders. There's also this: According to the Miami Herald's Armando Salguero, Landry was looking for a long-term deal that would pay him $14.5 million per season. The Dolphins found that too expensive but were fine paying Landry $16 million in 2018.
On one hand, you can make an argument that overpaying Landry for one season makes some sense; he's the Dolphins' best receiver an will make life easier for Ryan Tannehill (or a rookie should the team target a quarterback early in the draft). On the other hand ... well, this:
But there's also Door No. 3: The Dolphins could trade Landry.
A league source tells Pro Football Talk that that could be the plan but requires Landry to a) sign his franchise tender and b) agrees to accept a long-term deal from a new team. There's also the matter of what any new contract will look like. Yes, Landry was reportedly willing to take $14.5 million annually but that was before the Dolphins gave him a $1.7 million raise with the franchise tag.
If trading Landry was Miami's plan all along, the wide receiver has all the leverage. He can stay put and earn $16.2 million for a season's work. Or he can dictate the terms of any new deal with one of the 31 other teams. But here's the thing: Who would want to pay a No. 2 receiver averaging less than 10 yards per reception like one of the NFL's top pass catchers?
Whatever happens, the Dolphins and Landry have until July 15 to work out a long-term deal or a trade. If not, he'll have to play out next season on the $16.2 million franchise tag.