Cleveland Browns: What to do with Jarvis Landry?

Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns. Mandatory Credit: Scott Galvin-USA TODAY Sports /

Change is inevitable

Over the past three seasons, Mayfield has been one of the NFL’s very best passers on downfield throws. The problem is that the Browns don’t have many receivers who work well downfield. In fact, they have only one; Beckham, and he was absent this season, and hasn’t been on the same page with Mayfield to this point. And even if Beckham were playing and playing well, one player doesn’t fix the rest of the room.

The Browns lack speed at the WR position, and it hurt the offense this season. If the team was a few inches from advancing to the AFC Championship game, imagine what they could do with a revamped defense and a WR corps that complements Mayfield and the TE group.

Cleveland will be making major changes at WR this offseason. In the event that a new WR2 is obtained (Beckham is staying because he is cost-prohibitive to move), whether through free agency or the draft, Landry would then be moved back to his normal slot position as WR3. The problem is he wouldn’t be on the field for the majority of snaps.

Even if he were, it’s very difficult to justify his $14.8 million cap hit, and for a part-time player? That’s an extremely tough pill to swallow. In 12 personnel, the team would either be playing Landry over a highly-drafted rookie or good free agent and actively make the offense less explosive, or they’d be keeping a player being paid $8 million to $15 million on the sidelines, which is a terrible use of capital that is quickly dwindling.

Even if the team could restructure Landry’s deal to reduce his cap hit down to the $8 million range, that’s still a ton of money to pay a player who would be on the field for around 700 snaps at the very most, and likely closer to 550.

The Browns made Austin Hooper the highest-paid tight end in NFL history last offseason knowing full well the kind of player they were getting. Stefanski wanted a reliable all-around tight end to run his wide zone play-action offense with. Hooper may have had a disappointing season, but his play should hopefully regress to the mean in 2021. Landry and the WR room as a whole does not complement Hooper’s playstyle, nor does it help the Browns run the football more effectively. A group that forces the defense to respect the deep ball? That’s a completely different story.

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Nearly every Browns fan would probably like Landry to retire in Cleveland. But it’s very hard to see a realistic schematic and financial path to that happening. It may be best to prepare for his departure, which could happen sooner than later.