Jarvis Landry's franchise tag part of pivotal offseason for Dolphins, plus more notes
Miami is one of the half-dozen most intriguing teams this offseason amid free-agent and trade rumblings
There are plenty of people around the league who believe the Miami Dolphins will be very open to a Jarvis Landry trade this offseason after having quickly placed the franchise tag on him this week. But who will be willing to take him, especially at this price?
The Dolphins, unlike most teams, didn't wait to explore the full two weeks of the tagging period because, with quite a bridge to gulf between what they would offer on a long-term deal and what Landry is seeking, the odds to getting that kind of deal done this month were bleak. Personally, I am on record as believing a slot receiver at over $16 million is ridiculous, though I do understand not letting a quality young player walk out the door for only a future comp pick. And that's what the Dolphins have done here, protecting their ability to retain Landry and/or get something for him rather than just letting him hit the open market next month (again, I'm letting him walk and trying to trade for Emmanuel Sanders or something like that to fill my slot void).
It came as a surprise to several execs around the league that the Dolphins would absorb such a big contract given their already limited cap space, and it has many wondering if a trade might not be the end-game. Get something more than a third- or fourth-round pick in 2019 – the assumption of what the comp pick would be – and then re-invest in other players and positions. That won't be easy, however. By placing the tag on a receiver – who wouldn't qualify as a true No. 1 receiver in the eyes of some and who does his damage in small increments, by and large – it reinforces the player's sense of his value.
So now, via trade, you would have to find a club that not only is willing to pay this player like the very best in the world at his position, but who also is willing to part with a considerable asset of some sort to land him … plus it would have to pay him top dollar. Alas, it takes only one of 31 teams to create a market, but the high cost of the player already starts to mitigate the potential return.
Ultimately, the Dolphins may end up renting Landry for another year for more money than they are paying their quarterback, and perhaps he and Ryan Tannehill unlock this offense and take things to another degree and it leads to a marriage of player and team down the road somewhere. But franchising Landry again would be beyond out-of-the-question – you're talking nearly $20 million for 2019 alone – and if Landry really wants to hit the open market a year from now it's unlikely his contract demands drop much between now and mid-July, the deadline to extend him.
This could be a pivotal offseason for the Dolphins, and I figured they would be one of the half-dozen most intriguing teams to watch in the coming months. The decision to tag Landry cements that, though the act of placing the tag on him itself won't mitigate the suspense about how this saga ultimately ends, and whether he plays for Miami in 2018 after all.
Chiefs might shop Peters
From what I am hearing from other NFL teams, the Chiefs haven't made an overture toward trading Marcus Peters to this point, but other clubs anticipate his name coming up next week at the combine. Owner Clark Hunt has some concerns with Peters' actions last season, as I hear it, and some of his unusual behavior during games, and he might not be long for Kansas City.
This is an extremely talented and impactful player, but one who entered the league with some major red flags, and the Chiefs took their share of character risks in recent years and may have reached a tipping point. Peters is young and cheap and there will certainly be interested clubs should Andy Reid push the trade avenue, and the franchise has certainly been proactive already this winter, reshaping itself by waving goodbye to Derrick Johnson and Darrelle Revis and trading Alex Smith (hard not to wonder if Tamba Hali is next). Would a team like Seattle – who watched Peters play college ball in its backyard and who is often willing to take on risky players and who could need a cheap playmaking corner with its defense being re-shaped this offseason – be among those who make a good potential trade fit?
Peters is a player that other front office execs are talking about right now, regardless, and with the Chiefs fortifying the corner position already, well before the start of the new league year and free agency, perhaps there ends up being fire to this smoke.
- I have read about the Lions having a "difficult decision" to make with Ziggy Ansah, but is it really hard not to tag a player who has the potential to challenge for the NFL sack lead? Sure, the last few seasons have been lean and he has health concerns, but this isn't the kind of guy a defense with these limitations lets leave, especially with a rookie coach coming on board. "It's a no brainer to me," said one AFC executive. "They have plenty of cap room and they don't have a lot of other options to get pass rush. What am I missing?" Another said: "Ansah won't hit the market. The first move Matt Patricia makes is letting his best rusher walk out the door? Really?" I can't see it happening either, big price tag and all.
- If the sale of the Carolina Panthers creeps toward that $2.5 billion sale price, then the winning bid isn't likely to come from the ranks of anyone involved in the current minority ownership of an NFL team, a group that includes Steelers minority owner David Tepper. If this becomes a situation similar to the sale of the Buffalo Bills, where someone is willing to pay far beyond value as the Pegulas did, well, the sense I get is Tepper is not that guy. If the money gets that crazy, expect the new owner to be an outsider to the NFL. Former UFC baron Frank Fertitta, with his deep background in casinos, might not check all of the boxes, but I continue to hear his intent is very real. If he or NASCAR mogul Bruton Smith or the Levine family (who own a small share of the Panthers now) destroy the $2 billion threshold with their bids, those who know Tepper well believe he would bail. He is one of the richest guys in the world, but he didn't get there by not adhering to his own evaluations. Tepper has the means to purchase multiple teams if he wanted to, and his connections in league circles make him well liked on Park Avenue at the league office and an easy owner to get approved for full ownership, but money tends to talk in these kinds of transactions and time will tell how far above $2 billion this price tag gets.
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