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Why did the Dolphins trade Pro Bowl WR Jarvis Landry to Browns after franchise-tagging him?

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Jarvis Landry is one of only three receivers in the NFL with at least 400 receptions since 2014.

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NFL: Miami Dolphins at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins were quick to apply the franchise tag to Jarvis Landry in February, but the wide receiver won’t be playing in South Beach in 2018. Instead, he was traded to the Cleveland Browns for two draft picks Friday:

Landry, 25, has been one of the NFL’s most productive receivers in his four seasons in the NFL with 400 receptions for 4,038 yards and 22 touchdowns. He led the NFL in receptions in 2017 with 112 and earned a spot in the Pro Bowl for a third consecutive season.

But now he’ll bring that to Cleveland, where the Browns are trying to rebuild an offense of a team that went 0-16 in 2017. Shortly after trading for Landry, the Browns also traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

Why the Dolphins made the trade

Landry has racked up receptions at a ridiculous rate, but the rest of his numbers leave a bit to be desired.

According to Pro Football Focus, Landry played out of the slot on 64.8 percent of his routes in 2017 — down from 72.7 percent in the season prior. That’s why, despite the fact that he led the league in receptions, he was 17th in receiving yards with 987. He has, for the majority of his career, racked up receptions underneath for short gains.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing. Golden Tate played in the slot at an even higher rate than Landry and not many are complaining about his contributions with the Detroit Lions. But Tate has a contract that averages to $6.2 million per year.

After receiving the franchise tag, Landry is due to make more than $16 million in 2018. With the leverage on his side, and three consecutive Pro Bowls under his belt, the Dolphins were going to be forced to make Landry one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the NFL if they aimed to keep him for the long-term.

That just wasn’t a price tag the Dolphins — a team that is near the bottom of the league in cap space — wanted to pay.

There were also reports that the organization was becoming increasingly frustrated with the receiver, who was described to the Miami Herald as a “pain” and “hard to reach.” That, however, may have been the Dolphins’ attempt to cut away at the value of Landry to get him at a more affordable price. Either way, Landry didn’t appreciate it.

A messy divorce was likely inevitable. By trading him away, the Dolphins get some immediate compensation for the receiver and can move on with an offense that needed a ton of rebuilding anyway.

Why the Browns made the trade

With a long list of draft picks in 2018 — including the No. 1 and No. 4 selections, and three second-round picks — the Browns need to start turning those chips into talent that will win football games.

At the core of the team’s issues was an offense that scored the fewest points in the NFL.

There are some weapons on the offense in Josh Gordon, David Njoku and Corey Coleman, but Landry adds another threat to the mix for Taylor or whoever else the Browns might draft at quarterback.

You might say “poor Jarvis Landry,” but he’s evidently excited about the new opportunity in Cleveland.

Perhaps the bigger risk for the Browns will be the contract given to the receiver. The Dolphins were afraid of paying a slot receiver, but Cleveland will likely commit in a big way and that will ultimately decide in the long run if the trade was worth making.