Jarvis Landry is Baker Mayfield’s First Option

Shawn Stevenson

Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns currently hold a three-game winning streak and the team looks rejuvenated. The offense has significantly improved since their early season struggles. Mayfield is playing his best stretch of football this season, throwing for seven touchdowns with only one interception in the past three weeks.

Mayfield’s inspiring play since the bye week has been largely impacted by the production of wide receiver Jarvis Landry. The chemistry between these two players has provided plenty of momentum for the winning streak.

Landry showcased his best performance of the season against the Miami Dolphins in week eleven. He torched the Dolphins secondary all afternoon on ten catches for 148 yards and two touchdowns. This was a memorable revenge game for Landry against the team that traded him away in 2018.

After his dominant performance, Landry has solidified his role as Mayfield’s number one option. Most fans label Odell Beckham Jr as the offenses number one receiver because of his talent and natural playmaking ability. Although, from a performance standpoint Landry fits the bill as the offense’s first passing option.

The target share of these receivers has swapped since the beginning of the season. Beckham led the way with 29 receptions on 54 targets, closely followed by Landry’s 25 receptions on 44 targets. Since the bye week Landry has 34 receptions on 53 targets compared to Beckham’s 25 receptions on 43 targets.

Jarvis Landry’s production has been significant following the bye with five touchdowns in four games. He is also outperforming Beckham (55.67 percent) this season with a catch rate of 60.82 percent.

The chemistry between Landry and Mayfield is undeniable, as 71 percent of their connections result in a first down. Landry has 42 receptions going for a first down which is currently tied for eleventh best in the NFL. Most impressively he makes these catches with only an average of 2.7 yards of separation, while also creating 5.6 yards after catch per reception.

Critics may argue that Landry is not a traditional number one receiver because of his limiting ability to stretch the field. He has constantly been viewed as player that only successfully operates in the slot. So far this season he has proven these common criticisms wrong.

He has played extremely well running intermediate routes and making contested catches between the hashes. Landry currently averages 9.5 air yards per target (TAY), and typically runs deeper routes than the likes of Julian Edelman (8.8 TAY), Michael Thomas (7.7 TAY) and Cooper Kupp (7.3 TAY).

The production speaks for itself and Landry deserves to be a top passing option in the foreseeable future. There could be potential complications retaining Landry for long term as other talented players on the Browns will be seeking contract extensions. Next offseason, linebacker Joe Schobert, safety Damarious Randall, tackle Greg Robinson and Kareem Hunt could demand costly price tags on the open market. 

Decisions by general manager John Dorsey on those players contract offers could be affected by Landry’s current contract. The Browns have a potential out on Landry’s $14.55 million cap hit for 2020, before it becomes fully guaranteed on March 22. This is important to address because the wide receiver position group commands a significant portion of the team’s overall cap space.

Over the next three years the Browns will spend on average $31.5 million in salary on receivers with huge cap hits from Landry and Beckham. A comparable situation to the Minnesota Vikings who would have an average salary of $29.3 million during the same time span with Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen commanding big money. The Vikings are an example of a winning team with large allocation of salary to its receivers. 

The possibility of John Dorsey moving on from Jarvis Landry could be higher than expected depending on how the cap space is prioritized. His contract should not be the biggest factor for retaining him. Deciding to cut ties with Landry should not be a likely option because of the invaluable leadership he brings to the team and his blossoming production.

Young talent across the Browns roster with team-friendly contracts makes it an easier decision to keep Landry’s contract on the books. If Jarvis Landry is able to showcase consistency for the remainder of the season, he should stick with the team in the foreseeable future.

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