Now that the Dolphins have officially rid themselves of Jarvis Landry, wide receiver becomes another hole in the team’s needs. Could Miami possibly make a run now at the top pending free agent Allen Robinson?
The Miami Dolphins made it official Friday afternoon by trading away their #1 receiver over the past four years, Jarvis Landry, in a deal to the Browns that netted them two draft picks. Those two draft picks of course would turn out to be a 2018 4th round pick (#123 overall), and a 7th round pick in 2019. Nowhere the near the level of compensation that I believed netted a valuable return for Landry, but the damage is done, and it’s time to move on.
Landry was Miami’s heart and inspiration, and losing him is a crushing blow. The good news that comes out of this is that they can now use the $16 million he was owed in 2018 to apply to other pending free agents. The Dolphins have a lot of holes across the board that they need help to fill. Unfortunately with the Landry deal, wide receiver may be another hole that opened up for them.
Playing out of the slot, it could be argued that Landry was never a true #1 receiver, but it doesn’t discredit the fact that he was Miami’s #1 option. With him gone, the Dolphins definitely lack a true #1 now. DeVante Parker has not been that guy even though Miami drafted him to be with their first round selection back in 2015. Parker has played well in spurts, but he’s never exceeded 744 yards in any season, and has continuously battled injuries since entering the league.
To make up for the loss, the Dolphins are likely to use Jakeem Grant more in the slot, and could even give Kenny Stills more time in that role. Stills did spend a significant amount of time in the slot position during his time in New Orleans. Isaiah Ford is also expected to see an expanded role after spending his rookie season on injured reserve.
Making up for Landry’s passion may prove difficult, but the truth is, finding a replacement in the slot should not be. Any one of the guys mentioned could fill in admirably or Miami could find a suitable replacement late in the draft. They could even look in their own backyard at a guy like Braxton Berrios from the University of Miami. Berrios was exceptional playing out of the slot in his four years at Miami, and is projected to fall somewhere between the 5th – 7th rounds of the draft.
Regardless of how Miami addresses the slot position, they would still remain without a true #1 receiver. With the extra money they are saving, they could look to find one quickly through free agency. Of the available free agents, Allen Robinson would be the most intriguing to see in a Dolphins uniform.
The Jaguars surprised many by electing not to tag Robinson, possibly resulting in him becoming a free agent by Thursday. Jacksonville could still ink Robinson to a deal by March 14th, but if they don’t, he would become the most coveted wide receiver free agent this off-season.
As of now, Miami is not one of Robinson’s top landing spots, but that doesn’t mean things can’t change by Thursday. Should Miami have an interest, Robinson would be more than a viable replacement for Landry.
Robinson had a remarkable season in 2015 when he caught 80 receptions for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns. He trended down the following year in 2016, and played in less than a quarter last year after tearing his ACL in Jacksonville’s opener. This could be the reason that the Jaguars were so hesitant on tagging Robinson, but signs point to him having a full recovery in time for training camp.
Despite the downfall in 2016, and the torn ACL sustained in 2017, Robinson is still an elite receiver in the NFL. He was selected just two spots ahead of Landry in 2014, and was the lone bright spot on the Jaguars struggling offense his first three seasons. He has the same number of touchdowns (22) in three complete seasons with the Jaguars as Landry did with the Dolphins in four. His 14.1 yards per catch is a full four yards better than Landry’s 10.1 career average.
If the rumors that the Dolphins approached Landry with a deal worth $13.5 million annually are true, and he simply declined, then there’s a possible chance they could get Robinson for similar money, probably cheaper. Coming off the torn ACL, Robinson is looking more for a prove-it deal that could benefit Miami. We’re not sure what kind of guaranteed money was offered to Landry, but if the asking price for Robinson is right, Miami could end up getting an even better receiver in the end.
Landry never missed a game in Miami, but Robinson is the better overall receiver between the two. Both players have played for questionable quarterbacks in their careers, but it’s widely assumed that Ryan Tannehill is better than Blake Bortles by a wide stretch. Bortles did lead Jacksonville to the AFC Championship game this past year, and almost the team’s first Super Bowl berth, but the Jaguars elite defense played a large part in that result.
With rumors of Miami possibly taking a quarterback in the first round of the upcoming draft, who knows what the Dolphins QB situation will look like in the next few months. Regardless, Robinson could be intrigued by the situation, and he may want to stay within the area of the team that drafted him. Remember that Florida doesn’t have a state income tax, and that can drastically impact a player’s decision on where to play.
There are a number of other teams with better cap flexibility than Miami that will be looking to add an elite receiver like Robinson. Teams like San Francisco and Chicago come to mind. That’s why it’s easy to see that Miami would not be atop of Robinson’s list, but they should not be discounted either.
Of course Miami could go cheaper by offering contracts to other free agents such as Paul Richardson or Danny Amendola, both of whom also excel in the slot position. They also need to use some of that money to find suitable replacements at other positions like offensive guard and linebacker. Miami’s cap space is not yet set in stone, but they could open up $50+ million in available spending money with potential cuts and restructuring of other deals. With that type of flexibility the Dolphins could afford to add Robinson, and make improvements elsewhere.
No one is quite sure what the Dolphins front office has planned, but they are expected to be heavy hitters once free agency kicks off. With Mike Tannenbaum running the show this comes at no surprise. If Robinson does indeed become available by Thursday, it wouldn’t be surprising if the Dolphins are right in the mix.
Allen Robinson focusing on rehab, not free agency
Continuing his rehab from a torn left ACL remains the focus for Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson. He’s letting his agent handle free agency.
That’s one of the main things that Robinson told ESPN’s Adam Schefter on a podcast released Wednesday. Robinson said he speaks regularly with agent Roosevelt Barnes, but he doesn’t want to get bogged down with where he’s going to be playing in 2018.
“I try to keep myself in what I would call the eye of the storm,” Robinson said. “I know it’s a lot going on, but again for me I just try to keep everything as simple for me as possible, letting my agent handle most of the work. Me and him talk a lot; especially this time of year you have to be on the same page with [your agent].
“I’m still doing my rehab stuff, getting better each and every day, so that’s my main focus. And I know for my agent it’s a big part on him as far as just him handling and weathering everything that’s going on. I try to leave as much of the hard work to him as possible.”
The podcast was taped before the Jaguars notified Robinson on Tuesday that they would not be using the franchise tag on him. The team still has exclusive negotiating rights until Monday. If they are unable to reach an agreement by 4 p.m. ET March 14, Robinson would become an unrestricted free agent.
Robinson, who suffered a torn left ACL on the third play of the 2017 season, told Schefter his rehab remains on schedule and that he expects to be cleared with no limitations “well before [training] camp” begins in July.
Robinson, 24, said it was hard for him to watch the Jaguars go 10-6 and reach the AFC Championship Game while he was sidelined and unable to contribute. He had spent part of the offseason training with Hall of Fame receiver Randy Moss and felt he was poised to have a big season, like the one he had in 2015 (80 catches for 1,400 yards and 14 touchdowns).
“That’s one of the toughest things I ever had to go through,” Robinson said. “It was one of those things where I put a lot of work into the offseason last year. I spent some time out in Charlotte training with Randy Moss, so just the amount of work and stuff that I put in down there with him, and him really getting me ready for the season, it’s one of those situations where I had never been ready for a season, in my opinion, as much as I was this year.
“Suffering that injury on the third play of the game was tough — it was really tough on me, actually. But once that did happen, I knew at that point it was going to be a lot going on as far as my future and being some kind of, just, uncertainty of where I will want to be. So I kind of prepared myself for that. Just really keeping my mind mainly focused on getting back, getting to be the player that I am. I know I’m on my way to that and I know I’ll be back there soon.”
Robinson, whom the Jaguars drafted in the second round in 2014, has 202 catches for 2,848 yards and 22 touchdowns in 43 games. Robinson had 48 catches for 548 yards and two touchdowns as a rookie before a foot injury ended his season after 10 games. He had a monster year in 2015 and appeared to be on the cusp of joining the elite list of receivers in the NFL.
However, the Jaguars’ offense struggled in 2016, and so did Robinson. He was targeted the same number of times as he was in 2015 (151), but his yardage and touchdown numbers dropped off: 73 catches for 883 yards and six TDs. After leading the NFL with 31 catches of 20 or more yards in 2015, Robinson had just 11 in 2016.
His per-catch average also dropped by 5.4 yards from 2015 to 2016.