One of the best wide receivers on the free agent market just might make it there without any restrictions after all.
Around the NFL editor Gregg Rosenthal does not expect Miami Dolphins wide receiver Jarvis Landry to be handed the franchise tag, which would make him an unrestricted free agent when he hits the market in March. Indeed, Landry would be the biggest name on the market not to get the tag from his team, and while it wouldn’t come as much of a surprise (the talented slot receiver spent time on the trading block in 2017 and negotiations regarding a contract extension have been contentious) it would be great for the Bears.
And to be sure, the early-offseason expectation was that the Dolphins would bring Landry back into the fold. However, Rosenthal now represents at least one NFL analyst who doesn’t see it happening … at least by way of the franchise tag.
Landry rose to the top of the list of free agent receivers after Davante Adams re-signed with the Green Bay Packers. The Bears are expected to make a strong play to add Landry to their lackluster group of receivers (if he comes available) in an attempt to build around quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Pro Football Focus deemed the Bears to be the best fit for Landry, and it’s tough to argue against that considering the team’s need and the player’s excellence in the slot.
So where does that leave us?
If Landry makes it to the market, it could soften the blow of seeing two of the other top receivers who were expected to be unrestricted free agents are retained by their previous teams –Rosenthal believes Allen Robinson and Sammy Watkins will receive the franchise tag from the Jaguars and Rams, respectively. Of course, even if Landry were to become available and he was the Bears top priority, you’d still prefer more options available than not.
While it doesn’t seem like giving Robinson a one-year deal worth more than $16 million would be in the plans for the Jaguars, the team is faced with a bit of a conundrum with Robinson and Marqise Lee – the team’s top two receivers – set to hit free agency. If Jacksonville can’t re-sign both, it would only make sense to retain Robinson, who has more upside than Lee.
Watkins didn’t post eye-popping numbers as far as catches and receiving yards go, but quarterback Jared Goff was successful when targeting him in the passing attack. Goff posted a 116.0 passer rating when throwing to Watkins, who scored eight touchdowns in his first season with the Rams.
Tuesday is the first day teams can place the franchise or transition tags on players, but have until March 6 to make that call. Soon, business will pick up on the NFL’s free agent market.