It was perplexing to some that the Dolphins drafted Landry with a second-round draft pick while choosing Hazel toward the end of the NFL draft. The reason is, the current group of receivers on Miami’s roster is considered one of their strongest traits.
With the selection of Landry, it’s clear what the Dolphins hope he will eventually develop into, their franchise slot receiver.
For now, Mike Wallace and Brian Hartline are entrenched as Miami’s starting receivers. Which means the selection of Landry directly affects one receiver more than any other on the current roster, and his name is Brandon Gibson.
Gibson was signed to three-year, $9.78 million in last year’s offseason. Despite serving as a starting receiver while playing on the outside for the St. Louis Rams, Gibson made a great adjustment in 2013 and eventually won the Dolphins slot receiver role in the offense.
The veteran receiver played in that role for seven games before suffering a knee injury that ended his season in Week 8 versus the New England Patriots. Rishard Matthews ended up taking over Gibson’s role within the offense for the remainder of the season, and performed admirably well, finishing the season with 41 receptions for 448 yards and two touchdowns.
Wallace, Hartline, Gibson and Matthews serve as Miami’s primary veteran receivers.
The Dolphins have attempted to trade Wallace, but with his exorbitant $17.5 million cap figure for 2014, it’s impossible to envision a scenario where the ‘Fins get rid of Wallace before the 2014 season. Hartline is a productive receiver who signed a five-year deal in the 2013 offseason. Matthews is a young receiver who has a cap hit of just $583,000 in 2014. Barring a bad training camp, Matthews won’t be going anywhere.
Which leaves the veteran Gibson, who suddenly looks expendable. Gibson has a cap hit of $3.7 million in 2014, with a signing bonus of $1 million. If the Dolphins were to release Gibson with two years left on his contract, it would result in a dead money hit of just $2 million total over the next two seasons. It would save the team $2.7 million and $3.2 million on the cap in 2014 and 2015.
Other veteran receivers such as Armon Binns and Damian Williams will also compete for roster spots when training camp begins. With Wallace, Hartline and Landry having roster spots locked up, that leaves two open receiver spots. The Dolphins won’t keep Gibson around to be a No. 4 or No. 5 receiver. Those spots will be reserved for young guys like Matthews and Hazel who have potential and can contribute on special teams.
Minicamp has yet to begin, and it already looks as if Gibson’s days in South Florida are coming to an end.
D.J. Siddiqi is a writer for RantSports.com