Kenny Stills had a terrific 2016 season. Kenny Stills is an impending free agent. The Miami Dolphins would like to keep Kenny Stills. Kenny Stills isn’t going to be cheap.
This is the Miami Dolphins off-season conundrum. Sign Stills and keep him in Miami or let him test the free agent market. The Dolphins could opt to tag him but that would be a foolish mistake and highly unlikely.
Stills did indeed have a terrific season in 2016 to finish his rookie contract and unlike some players that play for dough in their final years, Stills was given opportunities and he took advantage of them. On the surface the thought of not bringing Stills back is a notion that borders on stupidity. He led the receivers in touchdowns. Emerged as a legit deep threat. Was one of Ryan Tannehill’s favorite targets. And is a personal favorite of head coach Adam Gase.
Still posted nine touchdowns on 42 receptions and had 726 yards receiving which almost doubled his stats from last season. More importantly Still really seemed to fit into the Dolphins offensive scheme and it can’t go unnoticed, as mentioned, that his rapport with Ryan Tannehill was only short of Tannehill’s rapport with Jarvis Landry.
The steps that Stills took last season are well noted and while many will cast him aside simply for a missed touchdown catch against Seattle in week one or because he chose to kneel during the National Anthem, the Dolphins have a big decision to make and it will absolutely come down to money.
It’s being speculated that Stills will command somewhere between $6 – 8 million in annual cap space. Obviously the cap number itself tends to fall differently depending on the length of the deal, guaranteed money, bonus money, etc… You get the idea. That may not seem like a lot for a number two wide-receiver but other factors will play into this. Specifically where the Dolphins are going to throw their money at.
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The Dolphins, Chris Grier and Mike Tannenbaum, have said they would like to re-sign Stills but also acknowledged that he has a right to test free agency if he so desires. Players like Jay Ajayi have spoken out about wanting Stills to return as well. But is this too much money to play another receiver?
The Dolphins will need to lock up Jarvis Landry either this year or next year and Landry’s starting point may be around $8 million. Landry knows how much his name is worth and there is little question that if he hits free agency he will be a top target of 31 other teams.
The Dolphins are going to need to spend money on Landry and Stills’ contract may not be easy to absorb. Then there is DeVante Parker. The Dolphins have over $6 million in cap space the next two seasons dedicated to Parker. If Stills is re-signed and Landry is given a new deal, the Dolphins could easily have somewhere between $15 – 18 million in cap space on three players at the same position.
While the Dolphins drafted Leonte Carroo in 2016 it’s unlikely he has any bearing on the decision of the Dolphins considering his lackluster practice habits and lack of improvement as the 2016 season trudged along.
There is little question that Stills deserves a solid contract this off-season but with so many other holes on the roster including defensive linemen, ends, tight-end, corner-back, guard, and linebacker, Stills may be a luxury that the Dolphins simply can’t afford. Of course he could be a luxury that they can’t afford to be without.