The Browns are committing to receiver Jarvis Landry.
In a huge way.
A contract extension is close to being finalized, a league source confirmed to The Chronicle-Telegram. It would pay Landry $75.5 million over five years with $47 million guaranteed, NFL Network reported Thursday.
The deal could be announced Friday.
Landry was acquired in March in a trade with the Dolphins, who had placed the $16 million franchise tag on him for 2018. The Browns sent Miami a fourth-round pick (No. 123 overall) this year and a seventh-rounder in 2019.
The next step after acquiring him was to keep him. The deal will assure that.
The contract puts Landry, 25, among the top five highest-paid wideouts in the NFL, and at the top for a guy who’s played primarily in the slot.
Pittsburgh’s Antonio Brown (average of $17 million a season) leads the receivers, according to spotrac.com, followed by Tampa Bay’s Mike Evans ($16.5 million), Houston’s DeAndre Hopkins ($16.2 million), Kansas City’s Sammy Watkins ($16 million) and Landry at $15.1 million.
If the reported $47 million guaranteed is accurate, Landry would rank tied for third with Atlanta’s Julio Jones, behind Evans at $55 million and Hopkins at $49 million.
Landry (6-foot, 205 pounds) sought a long-term deal from the Dolphins and wasn’t happy when they used the franchise tag. He wanted a contract worth an average of $13 million a season from the Dolphins, the Sun Sentinel reported, citing a league source. Despite record production, the Dolphins were unwilling to commit that type of money for a slot receiver who averaged a career-low 8.8 yards per catch last year.
The Browns, flush with salary cap space, have gone above and beyond in the extension as they try to transform the roster and culture following an 0-16 season.
In a video called “Pain Comes Before Glory,” produced by Rand Getlin and released before the trade, Landry discussed his motivation for seeking a long-term deal.
“I’m at the point where taking care of my family is the most important to me,” he said. “I’ve put my body on the line for years. I’ve sacrificed my time, I’ve sacrificed my life to make sure that I have this opportunity.”
He’s been one of the most productive wideouts in the NFL since the Dolphins drafted him with the 63rd pick out of LSU in 2014. He set an NFL record for receptions in the first four years of a career with 400 — 58 more than runner-up Anquan Boldin.
Landry made the Pro Bowl the last three seasons and has 4,038 yards, 22 touchdowns and a 10.1-yard average per catch in 64 games, never missing one. He led the league with 122 catches in 2017, adding a career-high nine touchdowns.
Only Brown and Jones have more catches since 2014, and he’s the first player since Lydell Mitchell in 1978 to change teams after leading the league in catches.
The Browns were desperate for an upgrade at receiver, particularly in the slot, to help an offense that ranked last in scoring at 14.6 points a game. Cleveland wideouts totaled 134 catches and seven touchdowns in 2017.
“He has marvelous stats. He is a four-time Pro Bowler. He has a presence about him and the way he plays the game,” general manager John Dorsey said March 15 after the trade became official. “I think he will be ideal in the slot receiver position. He is one of those guys that we consistently talk about: Are they competitive? Do they love the game of football? I think he fits that model.”
Dorsey didn’t want to talk about an extension but signaled that was his intention.
“I see long-term success for him in this organization. That is what I look forward to,” he said.
Coach Hue Jackson lacked quality receiving options for much of last year. He will team Landry with Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman in hope of a drastic difference.
“His nickname is Juice, Juice Landry,” Jackson said in March. “He does have juice. He is a tremendous football player. Obviously, his stats speak for themselves.
“He is a proven football player in the building who has a lot of intensity and a lot of pride about what he does. We are looking for that to show here for our football team.”
The Browns released seven players Thursday.
They terminated the contract of tight end Gavin Escobar and waived linebacker Max Bullough, receivers Bug Howard and Larry Pinkard, tight end Matt Lengel, defensive back C.J. Smith and running back Kelvin Taylor.
The Browns had a deal last month to trade Smith to the Seahawks for a conditional seventh-round draft pick in 2020, but he failed his physical and was returned.