Numerous people have asked me, what does a restructure for Jarvis Landry look like this offseason?
To answer that question we first have to look at what he would get if he was made a free agent. This is because anytime a player is asked to take a pay cut or renegotiate his deal his agent is going to make a few calls around the league and see what their market is.
What Position Does Landry Play?
This might seem like a ridiculous question but it is a very important one to discuss. When looking at the cornerback market, players in the slot and those on the boundary get very different deals in comparison. We need to investigate the wide receiver market and see how these players stack up.
Let us first look at Jarvis Landry’s entire career and see where his snaps are from. We have his snaps in the slot (including those where he is lined up inline) and those out wide. The percentages won’t always add up to 100% due to the times he has lined up in the backfield.
I’m going to look across a three-year window because using one-year samples can be open to lots of randomnesses and players change across their career so to judge someone by their usage in 2014 is unfair.
From this, we can clearly see that Jarvis Landry is predominately a slot wide receiver. Now let’s look at the highest-paid players in the wide receiver market to see where it shakes out.
Where Do The Highest Paid WRs Play?
Here are all the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL based on their average per year as a percentage of the salary cap at the time of signing. This is the best metric to compare players’ contracts across different seasons due to the increases in the salary cap from year to year. All this data is available on Over The Cap. (Ignoring the 1-year franchise tag for AJ Green)
We will look at the three years average for the snaps a player has taken in the slot vs out wide.
|Odell Beckham Jr.||10.2%||20%||80%|
Since Landry has a 59% usage in the slot we can put all the players with under a 40% usage to one side. They aren’t naturally comparable to him. Here are the remaining players in our sample sorted by slot usage:
Tate – 77%
Crowder – 73%
Boyd – 71%
Kupp – 63%
Landry – 59%
Lockett – 58%
Allen – 50%
Hill – 50%
Shepard – 48%
Now we have got a list of the highest-paid slot wide receivers in the NFL, let us next look at production, which will help us see where he stacks in that list.
How Does Landry Compare With Other Slot Wide Receivers?
Although there are lots of advanced metrics and things you can look at here, the NFL seems to be quite dated here (not the Browns luckily) and use the box score stats far too heavily. Think defensive line and sack production, it isn’t very stable but players seem to get paid based on them. For this section, we are going to look at games, catches, receiving yards, yards per catch, and touchdowns. This will be an average of the last three seasons. I will sort the table by yards overall as this is likely the measure agents will bang the table with during negotiations. I don’t think it will be surprised to anyone that Landry and Hill are rather different players despite both being slot receivers.
If we start at the bottom, we can remove Shepard, Crowder & Tate from the comparison, they just aren’t similar to Landry in terms of past production. At the same time we can take Hill & Allen out of the equation too, these are far more productive thus not good comparisons. We are then left with a nice group of four players that allow us to compare, these are Tyler Lockett, Jarvis Landry, Tyler Boyd & Cooper Kupp.
What About The Money?
Let us look at how much the other three players got paid here first in chronological order. The issue with comparison will be that these are all based on their second contract where Landy’s would be the third deal.
2018 – Tyler Lockett
APY is 6.0% of the cap at the time of signing so based on 2020 it would have been $35.7m/3
2019 – Tyler Boyd
APY is 5.7% of the cap at the time of signing so based on 2020 it would have been $45.2m/4
2020 – Cooper Kupp
APY is 7.9% of the cap at the time of signing
With Landry’s age, and him aiming for a third contract he is likely looking at that 6.0% range as his salary. So you’re talking about a $47.5m/4 year deal based on the 2020 salary cap. The next question is how many teams play with a slot wide receiver as a starter. From the table above we can see that only 8 teams pay big money to a veteran slot.
Slot Wide Receiver Usage
A slot wide receiver is generally a player you use in personnel groupings that have three wide receivers or more. Let us take a look at the usage of the teams for these 9 highest paid slots as this will be important. If a team isn’t using a slot wide receiver because they have only two or fewer wide receivers on the field, it brings into serious questions of why you would pay one so highly. Data from Sharp Football.
3+ Wide Receiver Usage in 2020:
Bengals (Boyd) – 83%
Jets (Crowder) – 78%
Chiefs (Hill) – 73%
Chargers (Allen) – 71%
Seahawks (Lockett) – 68%
Rams (Kupp) – 65%
Giants (Shepard & Tate) – 55%
Browns (Landry) – 44%
If we look at the three cases below 66% and check back to their 2019 season we have:
Rams – 77%
Giants – 74%
Browns – 65%
The Rams are likely just a one-year outlier, McVay has made his brand about the high usage of 11 personnel so expect this to rebound in 2021. Whereas the other two teams have slot receivers leftover from previous regimes that signed them when they used a 3+WR personnel package on offense as a base. This is where the issues come between Landry’s skillset in the slot and Stefanski’s heavy use of a 2TE scheme. The two aren’t complimentary.
Andrew Berry & Kevin Stefanski need to decide if they want to keep the 2 TE scheme that Baker has flourished in or keep Jarvis Landry long term and move to a 3 WR base. If they decide to keep Landry over the scheme and want to extend Landry this offseason then let’s look at how we add some more years onto the deal.
What Is Landry’s Current Deal?
Landry has two years left of his five-year deal. Based on everything we have seen above, he was overpaid when that initial deal was signed. He should have got a five-year deal in the $57.5m to $62m range rather than $75.5m over five. But none of that can be changed now, so put it to one side.
From what we discussed above, Landry is looking at $47.5m over 4 years on the open market. The issue is he is currently on $31.4m over the next 2 years. So a 2-year extension to his current deal to rework it into a 4-year deal worth $47.5m is only $16.1m of new money over those two years. That is such a gulf indifference that isn’t realistic to get sorted in any negotiation.
If you just use the average per year from the $47.5m/4 of $11.875m and add two of these years onto the end of his current deal. We end up with $55.1m over four years which is an overpay based on his market value.
Even if they decide to change Stefanski’s scheme to suit Jarvis then it will be incredibly hard for the Browns and Landry to come to an agreement on his contract that doesn’t leave one side unhappy. A new team in free agency can negotiate with a clean slate, unfortunately, this old contract doesn’t give the Browns that luxury.
Plus if you pay one of the two-star wide receivers then there is a good chance that the other one starts angling for a trade. While they no doubt enjoying being on the same team they are aware that there isn’t a third contract for both of them in Cleveland if the team wants to pay Baker Mayfield.
There has been lots of debate this season of where Landry fits in the Browns offense moving forward. Is he better suited to a team playing 11 personnel more often, does he have the natural athleticism to be one of the two wide receivers in a 2/3 tight end base, whose key role is getting deep and stretching the field?
It is a discussion they are no doubt having at the very highest level of the Browns as well. If you commit to Landry long term then there is a very good chance that a player like Higgins isn’t going to return. The team worked on an either/or system during the first six weeks of the season with the pairing due to concerns over athleticism and a lack of stretching the field for Baker.
I struggle to see any way an extension is done this offseason for Landry as a Cleveland Brown. They could go the route of approaching him for a pay cut as they did with Vernon but you have to be ready to cut a player in these negotiations for any progress to be made. Having a $12m slot wide receiver when you only use one around 44% of the time, isn’t an optimal use of resources.
It would likely be a case of him playing out this year and then trying to renegotiate his contract next offseason when he only has one year left. Personally, I favor Kevin Stefanski’s 2TE scheme and the benefit it brings to Baker rather than any player on the entire roster. Get the quarterback comfortable and then move the other 52 pieces on the roster to suit his skill set.
Any questions, feel free to hit me up on Twitter @JackDuffin. The DMs are open for any salary cap/roster construction questions you have.