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The Browns Are Making a Bet on Jarvis Landry

Cleveland is handing out $47 million guaranteed to its new slot receiver, a gamble that could pay dividends for the rookie quarterback it will surely add in the draft

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

The Deal

The Browns are set to agree to terms with receiver Jarvis Landry on a five-year deal with $47 million guaranteed and the potential to reach $75.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. The deal was first reported by ESPN’s Josina Anderson.

The Browns’ Perspective

Cleveland finally released its white-knuckle grip on its draft picks by flipping the Dolphins a 2018 fourth-rounder and 2019 seventh-rounder for Landry in March. Now the Browns have finished the job and extended him through the (likely) completion of their next quarterback’s rookie contract. From a football perspective, Landry fits on an offense where he’ll be able to work underneath while Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman lengthen the field on the outside. The Eagles and Rams drafted Carson Wentz and Jared Goff, respectively, in 2016, and both teams’ quarterbacks took huge strides in their second seasons after the team added quality receiver talent. The Browns hope that adding Landry will have the same effect on the quarterback they draft this year.

But while the on-field aspect adds up, the financials may not. Landry’s guaranteed figure is tied with Julio Jones for the third highest among receivers, just behind DeAndre Hopkins and Mike Evans. That’s a hell of a price tag to pay for Landry, who has mostly run short routes his whole career with the Dolphins — a marked difference from the outside receivers who dominate the top of the NFL’s receiver payroll.

The Browns have a league-leading $70 million–plus in cap space this year to help absorb the deal, and if Landry’s contract is front-loaded it may not sting as much as the sticker price implies. Still, it’s a hard pivot for the Browns to go from the process-oriented, asset-collecting approach of Sashi Brown to paying through the nose for a slot receiver. Landry’s production with the Dolphins doesn’t warrant this much money — Cleveland must be betting that it can take Landry beyond what he demonstrated in Miami. Perhaps Landry’s career production was a result of Miami’s scheme rather than Landry’s skill set, but GM John Dorsey isn’t getting a discount to find out.