By Nick Shook
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The Dolphins used their lone tool to wipe away negotation-driven stress — at least in the immediate future — and ensure Landry won’t be lured away from Miami, placing the franchise tag on the receiver on Tuesday, the team announced.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported the tag will pay Landry approximately $16 million and is non-exclusive, meaning he’s able to negotiate with other teams, but would cost an outside suitor two first-round draft picks for the right to sign him.
The money is surprising, because while Landry led the league in receptions (112), his average yards per catch of 8.8 deflates his value a bit. Conversely, Landry hit a career-high in touchdown receptions in 2017 with nine. Welcome to the conflict Miami has been contemplating internally for well over a month.
There’s also a sense that Miami isn’t ready to depart from a receiver who was an integral part of the franchise’s first postseason appearance during this decade just two seasons ago. While many things went wrong in the Dolphins‘ 6-10 campaign, the aforementioned numbers prove Landry wasn’t one of the issues.
It’s not the best offseason for receiving prospects (in free agency or the draft), so the allure of contractual freedom comes at the right time for Landry’s side. The reception number also indicates the wideout — who owns an annual receptions average of exactly 100 after four seasons in the NFL — is consistently productive, even if he isn’t quite the gamebreaker who would typically receive franchise tag money.
There’s also the hidden layer to this contract sandwich in which trade possibilities hide. Much like a zesty condiment that jumps up and surprises a consumer mid-bite, a trade involving Landry is very much still a possibility. The team reportedly dangled the wideout in trade talks before the 2017 season, giving legs to the idea.
At this stage, it’s not entirely certain he plays in Miami in 2018 or beyond. What Miami did on Tuesday was ensure it wouldn’t watch Landry walk away for nothing in March at the start of free agency.