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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins best bet may be to wait and franchise Landry

Roy Cummings

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Photo by Richard C.Lewis/Icon Sportswire
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Sooner or later the Dolphins are going to have to submit some kind of a new contract offer to two-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry. Right?

Landry is part of the Dolphins core, after all, and every other member of that core whose contract was slated to expire within the next year has been taken care of. Right?

Right. The Dolphins signed fellow wideout Kenny Stills, safety Reshad Jones, linebacker Kiko Alonso and defensive end Andre Branch to extensions earlier this offseason.

As coach Adam Gase put it, they did so as part of an effort to, in essence, do what was right by their key players as well as the team by wrapping them up for the long term.

Landry has to be next. Right? After all, he is the Dolphins “best player on offense.’’ Those were Gase’s words, spoken last November and nothing has happened on that side of the ball since to change that.

So why is that the Dolphins still haven’t even offered Landry a contract, much less signed him to the new extensions that will keep him in Miami for years to come?

Well, obviously money has something to do with it, and the fact Landry is due to earn just $893,852 this year is probably at the core of the Dolphins decision making. Meanwhile, as we wrote previously, Landry and his agent have made it clear they want they deal done before week one or else.

Think about it. The Dolphins have a few options here. They can sign Landry to an extension now, which will be quite pricey indeed, likely in the neighborhood of $56 million depending on the length of the deal.

They can also wait and see how well Landry plays in a contract year, which could prove financially beneficial if Landry has a down year or gets hurt, which is an outcome no one wants.

That’s financially risky, of course, but not as risky as you might think because even if Landry has another big season, the parameters of whatever long-term deal he signs won’t change all that much.

Landry is believed to be looking for a deal that pays an average of about $14 million a year, and in the wake of a third-straight Pro Bowl caliber year that asking price would probably only increase by about $1 million.

That’s why the best option for the Dolphins may be to simply wait until next spring when, even in the wake of another big year, they can slap the franchise tag on him and get him for a bargain again.

How? Simple. The cost of franchising Landry a year from now will be approximately $17 million. Given that he’ll earn less than $1 million this year, the Dolphins can get Landry for two years at about $8.5 million.

That’s well below market value and while such a move could disrupt the harmony that so far exists between Landry and the Dolphins, it’s a sound fiscal move the Dolphins have to consider.

Don’t be surprised then if Landry’s self-imposed deadline for getting a deal done – which he’s set at the Sept. 10 season opener – passes without the Dolphins even making an offer.

That would somewhat fly in the face of the Dolphins supposed desire to do what’s right for their core players by wrapping them up for the long term, but from a business standpoint, it makes all kinds of good sense.

Roy Cummings is a native of Chicago, Illinois who grew up in the suburb of Lombard. He and his family later moved to Lakeland, Florida, where Roy attended high school at Kathleen High. He graduated from the University of South Florida with a Bachelor's Degree in Mass Communications in 1983 and immediately went to work for the Tampa Tribune. After five years working in a Polk County bureau covering everything from high school sports to college football to the Orlando Magic of the NBA, Roy moved back to Tampa and became the Tribune's first beat writer for the Tampa Bay Lightning, covering the team from its inception through the first eight years on the ice. He was then moved to the Buccaneers beat, where he stayed until the paper was folded in May, 2016. A two-time Florida Sports Writer of the Year, Roy has extensive experience covering all Tampa professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Rays.

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Miami Dolphins

“Mountaineer Shot” earns Dolphins K Sanders AFC honors

Florida Football Insiders

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Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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One of the great trick plays, not just of this NFL season but in recent pro football memory, has earned the Dolphins kicker who caught a touchdown pass Sunday AFC weekly honors.

The league announced Wednesday that kicker Jason Sanders, who became the first place-kicker to catch a touchdown pass in 42 years, is the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week:

Sanders also made his only field-goal attempt, as well as two extra points, earned the weekly honor for Miami’s 37 – 31 upset of the Eagles.

However, it is the play that is known as “Mountaineer Shot” that Sanders will forever be remembered for not just in Dolphin history, but NFL.

We wrote about the play on Monday, as head coach Brian Flores and special teams coordinator Danny Crossman implemented the direct snap to punter Matt Haack, while players were spread wide on either side of the formation.

Haack then, took the snap, rolled left and when the Eagles rushed at him, he flipped the ball to Sanders for the touchdown. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers. And, it’s something that Dolphins had been practicing regularly on and off for the past two months.

Furher, as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

It is also the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that a punter has completed a touchdown pass to a kicker and the play will live on for years and years to come.

It is the second time that Sanders has won the AFC special teams player of the week award this season. He also got the honor for his two clultch 48 yard field goals in the fourth quarter of the Dolphins 16-12 upset of the Indianapolis Colts in November.

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Miami Dolphins

Dolphins fans still buzzing over “Mountaineer Shot” trick play

Florida Football Insiders

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Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
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Move over, “Miami Miracle,” we now have a rival Dolphins trick play that will be talked about forever by fans and observers.

While it wasn’t the crazy lateral clinching play that Miami scored on with no time left to defeat the Patriots last December, “Mountaineer Shot,” as it’s known, is one of the wildest gadget plays to ever score a TD in the NFL. That’s because it involved the punter throwing to the kicker for a touchdown on a fake field goal.

It was the second quarter with the Dolphins trailing the Eagles 13 – 7, when Miami elected to kick a field goal (or so we thought) from Philadelphia’s 1-yard line.

That’s when dolphin punter Matt Haack lined up behind Center Daniel Kilgore with Miami spreading players to the right and the left. Then, what happened next was comical special teams touchdown, maybe in NFL history:

Haack’s first ever NFL completion was a forward option pitch to the kicker, Jason Sanders. And for good measure, it was Sanders first reception in his entire football career (dating back to high school) with the play stunning the Eagles and helping Miami pull off a 37 – 31 upset win.

Here was more on the play from David Wilson of the Miami Herald, including how long coach Brian Flores, special teams coach Danny Crossman and the players had been waiting to pull it out of the bag of tricks:

“We felt like that was a good time to run it,” coach Brian Flores said, and it gave us a spark….

“It was one of those plays Miami had been waiting weeks for the chance to run. Tight end Mike Gesicki said the Dolphins started working on it about two months ago and have been waiting weeks for the right opportunity to arise. Sunday finally presented such an opportunity….

“The gutsy call was just the latest in a line of gutsy calls by special teams coordinator Danny Crossman. In an October loss to the Buffalo Bills, Haack ran for a first down on a fake punt attempt. Last month, the Dolphins successfully executed a surprise onside kick in another loss to the Bills….

“The gutsy call was Crossman distilled to his mad-scientist essence.

“Danny Crossman is crazy. Like what is he dreaming up? This is the NFL,” quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said. “Like, that’s not—that doesn’t happen.”

Of course there is further irony that the Eagles famously ran their “Philly Special” play, which was an option pass to then-quarterback Nick Foles, for a touchdown in their upset of the Patriots in Super Bowl 52.

So, teams have constantly been looking to get the Eagles on trick plays themselves.

This would include the Patriots having run a double pass to wide receiver Julian Edelman, who threw a touchdown against them in New England’s 17-10 victory couple of weeks ago at Philly.

Back to “Mountaineer Shot” on Sunday. The play is named for the center, Kilgore, because he played at Appalachian State, whose nickname is the Mountaineers.

And as for the historical aspects of the play, Sanders became the first kicker to catch a touchdown pass in an NFL game since Baltimore’s Jim Turner did it in a game in 1977.

And, it is the first time since the AFL – NFL merger in 1970 that our punter has thrown a touchdown pass to the kicker.

Oh, and the Fins have suddenly come to life with three wins in four games after and 0-7 start. And, it’s in part because the team is still playing hard for a coach and coaching staff that’s willing to take wild risks they did with “Mountaineer Shot,” Sunday.

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