Perhaps the most interesting off-season decision facing the Miami Dolphins is whether or not they will re-sign WR Kenny Stills. Stills had a fantastic season this year, becoming the deep threat the team hoped he would be for QB Ryan Tannehill, making big time catches at the right moments to ice games.
Stills is set to hit free agency if the Dolphins do not bring him back, and is expected to ask for a new salary ranging in the $6-8 million per year range, with more than $12 million guaranteed.
The question becomes not whether or not the Miami Dolphins want to re-sign Stills, but rather if he is worth it. In his first season with the team in 2015, Stills totaled just 27 receptions on 63 targets and 440 yards, including 3 TD´s. These numbers do not jump off the page, and I attribute his lack of production to the constant turmoil of the Dolphins offense, which saw numerous coaching changes at both the Head Coach and Offensive Coorindator positions.
However, the jump for Stills between year 1 and year 2 under Adam Gase simply can not go unnoticed. This season, Stills started all 16 games (as opposed to 8 in 2015), and totaled 726 yards on 42 receptions for 17.3 YPR and a whopping 9 TD´s. Had he not dropped a crucial long ball from Tannehill in Week 1 against the Seattle Seahawks, he would have hit the double digit TD mark.
Stills was perhaps the Dolphins most consistent receiver this season not named Jarvis Landry, and the argument can be made that his presence as a constant deep ball threat opened up the Dolphins running game and underneath passing game.
This makes Stills more valuable than his statistics alone. His speed and ability to track the deep ball are up there with the best in the league.
It would come as no surprise if the Dolphins´ decision of what to do with Stills weighs heavily on the deal of Jarvis Landry, who is also looking for a new deal this off-season. It may prove to be too hard financially to keep them both, and I just do not see the Dolphins parting from Landry, who has become the heart and soul of this offense and the team at large.
In an ideal world, the Dolphins can find a way to retain both Stills and Landry, giving Tannehill another year to build chemistry with his two young wide-outs. If not, the Dolphins will have to turn to the draft of free agency to find a replacement for Stills´ highly coveted skill-set.