Jarvis Landry came to Cleveland to change the franchise's culture. He accomplished the mission, but not all heroes receive the same farewell.
The Browns released Landry on Monday, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. Cleveland later announced the move.
Landry had been given permission to seek a trade after the receiver and the team could not come to an agreement on a contract restructure. Now he receives the freedom to choose his next destination with his release before the start of the new league year.
"The trade for Jarvis Landry in 2018 was a key moment for our organization," executive vice president and general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. "Jarvis' on-field production and fiery competitiveness speaks for itself, but his leadership and team-oriented attitude impacted our culture in a way that will last in time even beyond his release. These decisions are always difficult, but we wish Jarvis well and we look forward to the day when he returns as a storied Browns alumnus."
Landry arrived in Cleveland via trade in 2018 and quickly became the face of former general manager John Dorsey's attempt at a rapid rebuild of the moribund Browns. Landry won the hearts of Cleveland before he even played a game for the team, delivering an impassioned speech about effort and dedication to the franchise's greater goals during training camp, all of which was captured by HBO Sports and NFL Films crews.
Landry practiced what he preached, catching 81 passes for 976 yards and four touchdowns in his first season in Cleveland, a campaign in which the Browns went from 0-16 in 2017 to 7-8-1 (despite playing under two different head coaches) in 2018. Along with Myles Garrett and rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield, Landry became the face of the Browns' bright future.
Landry one-upped himself the next season, catching 83 passes for 1,174 yards and six touchdowns, while playing the entire season with a hip that was injured badly enough to require surgery after the season. That became the theme for Landry's time in Cleveland: a gritty, endlessly competitive receiver fighting through a variety of physical ailments and internal adversity to attempt to lead his team to success on and off the field. All the while, you rarely (if ever) heard him mention his physical limitations: In 2019, he didn't reveal he had any sort of issue until he spoke with NFL.com at the Pro Bowl.
With the Browns, Landry became a man who was crucial to the locker room, a glue guy who lost his closest teammate when Odell Beckham Jr. forced his way out of Cleveland in 2021. Landry, meanwhile, played through another significant injury -- this time, a knee and quadriceps issue that cost him five games -- to record a career-low 52 receptions for 570 yards and two touchdowns.
Landry's average annual salary of $15.1 million was escalating on the backloaded portion of his contract (signed when he arrived in 2018), and the Browns couldn't justify carrying such a significant cap number without production. Landry expressed a desire to remain in Cleveland but also acknowledged the reality of the business, publicly placing the ball in the Browns' court via Twitter.
The writing for such a departure was on the wall at that moment, and Saturday's news of an agreed-upon trade between the Browns and Cowboys to send Amari Cooper (and his $20 million cap number) to Cleveland essentially sealed Landry's fate.
Landry will hit the open market with an expectation that should fall lower than the roughly $16 million he was due in 2022. Already, the receiver has garnered interest from the Bills, Chiefs and Packers, per Rapoport and NFL Network's Mike Garafolo. Still, the 29-year-old has proven to be highly dependable in the passing game, especially at shorter depths. He was a crucial part of Cleveland's run to the postseason in 2020 and the Browns' first playoff win since the 1994 season. He can make a similar impact somewhere else; now, it's about finding the next ideal fit for the receiver affectionately known as "Juice".