The NFL Scouting Combine is deceptive.
While the next wave of NFL talent takes the league by storm, solidifying stock in one way or another via an array of drills, measurements and interviews, an army of agents and teams get to work on decisions pertaining to free agency.
The rumor mill also creeps into the picture. With a huge name like Jarvis Landry of the Miami Dolphins possibly on the block and teams like the Oakland Raiders reportedly looking to sell big-name players, it tends to creep into the conversation around such a big event.
Let’s take a look at some of the biggest rumblings making the rounds.
Jarvis Landry and the TagGregory Payan/Associated Press
Landry is going to remain one of the biggest names of free agency unless something wild happens with Drew Brees.
Unlike Brees, Landry got hit with a franchise tag. Call it smart business by the Dolphins, who want to get something immediate out of his departure, or at worst eat a huge cap hit.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Landry will ink the one-year deal, worth about $16 million:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
#Dolphins WR Jarvis Landry is accepting the franchise tag and signing it imminently, source said. Based on talks with several interested teams, he’s being viewed as a No. 1. WR. Signing locks him in with DeAndre Hopkins amp; Antonio Brown above $16M. Let the trade talks heat up 🔥
In turn, this opens up the trade avenue, though ESPN’s Adam Schefter said things aren’t close on that front:
Adam Schefter @AdamSchefter
Miami WR Jarvis Landry, who was franchised last month, has informed the Dolphins he will be signing his franchise tag, per source. Once Landry signs, he can be traded, but no trade close at this time.
It’s not hard to see why a team might want to make a move for Landry—at the right price.
On one hand, Landry is just 25 and boasts 400 catches over four seasons. On the other, he averaged all of 8.8 yards per catch in 2017 despite nine touchdowns. Those scores were the first time he had eclipsed the five-touchdown mark in a season.
The problem the Dolphins will run into with Landry is the per-catch number, as he’s a target hog who works underneath routes. It’s what many teams do to emulate the running game if it isn’t working, but the problem becomes whether a team wants to cough up $16 million for what another guy can do cheaper—and Landry is going to want top-tier money on an extension after a trade.
It’s a long way of saying it makes sense a trade isn’t close. Something figures to get done, but it will probably see the Dolphins blink on the asking price.
Jarvis Landry and the Bears?Wilfredo Lee/Associated Press
One team that figures to have an interest in a talent like Landry is the Chicago Bears.
This possible connection seemed to get off to a false start, though, with John Mullin of NBC Sports Chicago initially reporting the Bears talked with the Dolphins about a deal involving running back Jordan Howard.
Schefter above, though, seemed to dismiss this idea. As did Rapoport:
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Worth noting: There is zero desire by the #Bears to trade RB Jordan Howard, sources say. Doesn’t sound like there will be any splashy Jarvis Landry for Howard deal.
Ian Rapoport @RapSheet
Hear this wasn’t even discussed. https://t.co/Bs8UqNQU1l
For a team that has had a hard time luring premier free agents to town during a rebuild, rolling the dice on Landry would make some sense—especially because his consistency underneath would help along Mitchell Trubisky under center in a big way.
The hiccup here would have to be Howard, a 23-year-old back coming off consecutive 1,100-yard seasons at a minimum to start his career. New Bears head coach Matt Nagy likes more versatile backs who can help in the passing game, but Howard has time to develop that, and giving up on him so they could pay Landry enough money to reset the wideout market doesn’t make a ton of sense.
These parties could still work something out. But with Cameron Meredith already on the roster, plenty of cash to blow in free agency and high selections in the draft, the Bears might decide to stay away from this discussion.
Michael Bennett on the BlockPhelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press
It seems like the Seattle Seahawks and defensive end Michael Bennett have reached the end of a productive relationship.
According to Brady Henderson of ESPN.com, the Seahawks have slapped Bennett on the block, a move both sides seem comfortable with as the team apparently heads into an overhaul on the defensive line.
With Sheldon Richardson a free agent and both Cliff Avril and Malik McDowell serious unknowns thanks to injuries, it makes sense the Seahawks would try to get back something in return for the 32-year-old end, who has 39 sacks to his name over five seasons in Seattle.
Bennett seemed pretty calm about the situation near the end of the 2017 season.
“I probably won’t be back next year,” he said, according to Gregg Bell of the News Tribune. “Just seems like it’s a young man’s game. I can see them going younger, with younger players. That’s part of the game.”
One problem: According to Spotrac, Bennett has a cap hit of $8.3 million in 2018, a number that rises in each of the next two years through 2020. If he’s traded or cut, the Seahawks have to eat a hit of about $5 million.
This is where it all comes together, right? Bennett had 8.5 sacks last season while moving all over the line, but his contract is gigantic, and it’s clear the two are set to split. It’s less costly to take a chance on him in free agency after he gets cut, and if that doesn’t work out, there’s another rookie class inbound.
Even a win-now team might find it best to see how the market plays out rather than inhale Bennett’s contract.
It looks like June 1 is the cutoff here, based on his contract. Until then, expect to hear plenty about Bennett.