Over the weekend, Pro Football Focus gave out grades for each free agency signing and trades done so far since NFL Free Agency officially kicked off on Thursday. They were not so kind to a couple re-signings done by the Miami Dolphins.
A majority of Miami Dolphins fans would agree that this has been one of the strongest offseasons for Miami to start in quite some time. The Dolphins made it a point prior to free agency that they would focus on keeping their own, and filling holes at much needed positions. To this point, they’ve done exactly that.
Miami re-signed Kenny Stills and Andre Branch, while also giving Reshad Jones an extension. In addition, the Dolphins made a trade with the Los Angeles Rams to bring in William Hayes, and signed Ted Larsen to help out at the guard position. Even after the sad news of Isa Abdul-Quddus‘ career likely to be over, the Dolphins were quick to find his replacement in Nate Allen.
The front office is obviously doing what needs to be done in order to make the team better, and build off of last season’s playoff berth, but there are some who don’t feel their signings have been smart acquisitions. In particular, Pro Football Focus gave the Dolphins very poor grades in regards to the Stills and Branch re-signings.
I about fell out of my chair just from reading this tweet sent out by PFF. No one I have talked to personally or heard from had given the Dolphins anything lower than a “B” grade when it comes to re-signing Stills. The fact that PFF gives them a “D” while also mentioning that the Chicago Bears deserve a “B” for signing Kendall Wright is puzzling to say the least. And that’s even before clicking on the article.
In the article itself, it seems to get worse. PFF makes the point that they grade each acquisition based on their own metric system. The article makes clear that part of the metric system is based on a “play-earned contract“, evaluating what a player should receive based on the previous three seasons of play.
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Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but from what I gathered in this article is that chemistry is not at all included in evaluating each free agency signing. In addition to the Wright signing, PFF also gave the Bears a “B” grade for signing QB Mike Glennon to a three-year deal worth $15 million annually. While only $18.5 million of Glennon’s contract is guaranteed, his signing is far from worthy of a B grade.
Upon evaluating PFF’s reasoning behind giving Miami a D for re-signing Stills, it appears they do not understand how much of an impact Stills had on the Dolphins offense last season.
"“Kenny Stills is getting that deep-threat boost to his finances. He did make some big plays for Miami last season, scoring nine touchdowns, but didn’t necessarily have to do a whole lot to score some of them. He is a legitimate deep threat, but doesn’t look particularly likely to develop into much beyond that.”"
Stills has yet to top 1,000 receiving yards in a season, and isn’t exactly the type of player you’re dying to draft to your fantasy team. However, the fact that his nine touchdowns were more than teammates Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker combined shows just how valuable he is to Miami. It’s no secret either that Stills could have easily received $10+ million annually had he signed somewhere else. The fact that he took less money to stay shows not only as a bargain for Miami, but that the organization is making the turn to be a place that players want to come to.
As if the Stills grade wasn’t bad enough, PFF was even worse in grading the re-signing of Andre Branch. PFF gave the Dolphins a flat out “F” for re-signing the defensive end. I can see where Branch’s $24 million deal over three seasons with $16.8 million guaranteed may be overpriced, but free agency this offseason isn’t exactly flooding with outstanding pass rushers.
Miami clearly needed at least two edge rushers to pair with Cameron Wake heading into the offseason. Overpaying for a player already familiar with the system coming off a good season, albeit not great, is still not the worst move imaginable. Surely, Branch’s re-signing was not deserving of an “A”, but a failing grade is overly drastic.
Even though PFF came off a bit harsh to the Dolphins regarding Stills and Branch, it should be noted that they did approve of the William Hayes trade. PFF gave Miami an “A” in the move, and the Rams a “D”. In regards to Miami sending Brandon Albert to the Jaguars in exchange for a seventh round pick, PFF handed out “C” grades to each team. A vast majority of the deals made across the league since March 9th were included in the grading system, but not nearly all of them.
The Dolphins separate acquisition to acquire Julius Thomas from the Jaguars was not included in the article. Neither were the extensions of Jones, or Miami’s other signings, including bringing in former Steeler Lawrence Timmons to help out at the linebacker position.
PFF is entitled to their opinions based on their metric system and other factors, but we here at PhinPhanatic will have to disagree, at least, in regards to the moves Miami has made thus far. Dolphins fans understand that this has been one of Miami’s best offseasons to start in recent memory, and they haven’t had to break the bank in order to do it.
In the past, players couldn’t wait to get out of dodge. Now they’re restructuring contracts and taking pay cuts to stay in town. That goes to show how well the organization is turning things around to take care of their own, as well as how highly players believe in head coach Adam Gase. They feel something special being built in South Florida, and how well the chemistry is brewing among them. These are things that a metric system simply could not comprehend.