He is certainly not the first player to ever do it. He is not even the first one to do it with the Cleveland Browns. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry, acquired last month via trade, agreed last week to a long-term contract with the team, with whom he has yet to practice.
Landry was given the franchise tag by the Miami Dolphins, with the team hoping to trade him. They found a willing partner in Cleveland, though I do find myself a bit surprised that the Browns found a willing partner in Landry to work out a long-term extension already.
The fifth-year wide receiver could have opted to play out the 2018 season under the franchise tag and look to hit the open market in 2019. What he essentially experienced this season was a one-team free agency. He could sign a long-term contract with one team and he took it.
Cleveland’s offseason program begins tomorrow. Which means that Landry has been unable to actually talk football with his coaches yet. Which means that he agreed to a long-term arrangement with a team that has won one game in two years without even getting an instinct for what they intend to do with him or as a team.
Not that that makes it a bad decision. Who knows, maybe he really is getting in on the ground floor of a new and brighter future for the Browns, one of the key cogs in a rebuilding offense that could actually contend for division titles.
Part of such a decision obviously requires a tremendous amount of belief in yourself. Aside from the money (assuming that is not the sole motivation), the choice to sign with a team that has a long history of failure is based on a drive and a belief that you are a good enough player to change the fortunes of that franchise.
One thing the former LSU starter does not lack is confidence in himself. Though often pegged as a slot receiver, Landry believes he is capable of playing any wide receiver role and seems convinced that he will be given the chance to play whatever role he wants in the Browns’ offense.
At the moment, that offense is shaping up to feature Landry, Josh Gordon, and Corey Coleman as their top wide receivers, flanked by tight end David Njoku, running back Carlos Hyde, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor.
There is an excellent chance that they add premium talents at the quarterback and running back positions early in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft in less than two weeks. Josh Allen and Sam Darnold have been the names zeroed in on at quarterback, while Saquon Barkley would obviously be the running back, if available at four.