The Miami Dolphins Need to Pay Jarvis Landry

“We’re building something special here…”

This quote leads to a curious case with Jarvis Landry and his value to the Miami Dolphins. Will it become a point of contention the longer the prolific wide receiver remains without a contract extension? As a slot receiver, Landry is rarely mentioned in the same sentence with his flashy college teammate Odell Beckham. Yet Landry holds the NFL record for the most receptions in his first two seasons, catching 194 passes. Landry and Beckham are tied for the most catches after three seasons with 288.

Landry is oft criticized for finding the endzone only 13 time in three seasons but he has a history of mastering perceived shortcomings. Overshadowed by Beckham and posting a pedestrian 4.61 40 yard dash allowed Landry to slip to the Dolphins in the second round. At 5’11” he’s not the biggest target, in fact, few of his tangible measurements stood out during the 2014 combine. Only when plugging in the tape does Landry’s value as a football player and teammate become apparent.

Landry is the spark plug that ignites the Miami Dolphin engine. Landry is the playmaker in moments of desperation. Landry is the leader when others lose confidence. These intangible assets, unlike 40 times, are his core value. On a team with a subdued Ryan Tannehill at QB, the fiery leadership comes from another position in the huddle. That position belongs to Juice Landry, he is the juice that gets the party started.

“We’re building something special here…”

A slot receiver is not typically a big money player, that designation goes to DeVante Parker with his first round pedigree and off the chart combine numbers. Clearly tangible measurements do not make a football player. Parker may one day live up to the team’s draft day expectations, but this is more an indictment of the process. Rewarding 40 yard dashes over demonstrated accomplishments on the football field has led to more Dion Jordan’s than Jarvis Landry’s.

Those first round mistakes created the rookie salary cap because the risk/reward of the unknown is a losing proposition. The notion of paying more to veteran players is a joke and a lie. The NFL power brokers grew tired of their own mistakes and decided to mitigate them by forcing rookies to demonstrate their worth before any big money changed greedy hands.

Under the leadership of Adam Gase, the Miami Dolphins have made a paradigm shift in personnel philosophy. Moving from perennial winners of March free agent Madness to a pay-for-play homegrown revolution. Gase’s message is simple and direct, “put it all on the field for me and you’ll get paid by me.” In the free agent age, where money-grabs rule, and players usually switch teams to obtain their perceived value, the approach is both refreshing and enlightened.

“We’re building something special here…”

The concept offers a subtle solution to the question, “how do you motivate players after they become multimillionaires?” Football players like Juice Landry are not as motivated by pure dollars as many outside the locker room would think. Football players know, a single hit or shift in a scrum pile can end their careers’ instantly. When the opportunity to get rich knocks, only a fool wouldn’t jump, especially after working their entire lives to achieve stardom in their chosen profession.

Clearly, the resounding drop-off in performance when players switch teams shows that dollars rarely motivate. The answer lies in the locker room where Jarvis Landry sits waiting on his payday and watches outsiders like Ndamukong Suh stride in with $100 million dollars in their pocket. Resentment is probably a word rarely uttered in NFL circles and yet, why did Suh leave Detroit to get paid? He now sits with two locker stalls in an obscure corner, his $100 million dollars flying like banner over his locker. Are the players around him not supposed to feel resentment?

Therein lies the answer… The Miami Dolphins (among other teams) flounder because, letting players walk out the door to get paid sends the wrong message. Bringing in players from other teams and paying them sends the wrong message. Kenny Stills could have a better contract, Kiko Alonso could have waited for free agency, Cameron Wake could have played out his contract, and Andre Branch would’ve received the same deal elsewhere. They chose to stay in Miami.

“We’re building something special here…”

Teammates motivate multimillionaires… Not coaches, not dollars, not accolades, teammates. When players jump ship to get paid, the locker room breaks down. When new players enter that are not part of the chemistry, the locker room breaks down.

Gase has made a brilliant observation, teammates motivate multimillionaires… 

When teammates hold each other accountable, the dollars are of no consequence. The bad ass defensive tackle in the corner is as much a part of the fabric as the geeky clutch kicker. Together, they strive for greatness and the dollars take care of themselves. “Play for me and I’ll get you paid.”

“We’re building something special here…”

Jarvis Landry is the embodiment of this philosophy because he does not need dollars to put it out on the field. He is the player Adam Gase envisioned when he thought through this personnel concept and now The Juice needs some oranges squeezed! Would it be surprising to learn Jarvis Landry asked his coach to, “take care of my boys first?” It is purely conjecture, but Landry making that statement rings true, because he’s the ultimate teammate.

And now, it’s time to pay The Juice.

“We’re building something special here…”