Kenny Stills, although no superstar, plays a key role in this offense. His 4.38 speed is a weapon that can be a dagger to the heart of defenses, and head coach Adam Gase has sung his praises since overtaking the team. Not to mention the great chemistry Stills and Quarterback Ryan Tannehill have with each other—working on the deep route countless times after practice.
Kenny Stills put up 726 yards and 9 touchdowns in the 2016 season, nothing flashy, but an improvement compared to his first year with the team in 2015(Another example of Adam Gase getting the most out of his players). The Dolphins rewarded him with a 4-year $32 million deal with $20 million guaranteed. At 24 years old and with the reported “mental game slowing down for Tannehill”, Stills will be entering the prime of his career, play a bigger role, and is expected to surpass his 2016 performance.
Stills’ Camp was offered a lot more by other teams to go elsewhere, but his success and relationship with Gase and Tannehill made him want to be here. He believes that the Dolphins are building something special, and according to the sensible moves the Dolphins have made since March of 2016, they are on the right track.
Defense End Andre Branch agreed to a 3-year $24 million deal with $3 million in incentives. The signing of Andre Branch was vital to the Dolphins defense. Although he did not put up big stats(5.5 sacks, 49 tackles), he was highly productive, using his high motor, long arms, and speed to pressure quarterbacks and pull down opposing running-backs—making key plays in regular season games against the Steelers, Chargers, and Bills. Branch’s first season with the Dolphins is arguably and statistically the best year of his career. Had the Dolphins lost him to free agency, they would have added another hole to their already depleted defense with no solid #2 defensive end to replace him.
Overall, the Fins did a solid job of not being irresponsible with their abundance of cap space in order to re-sign these key players. Kenny Still’s salary averages to $8 million annually which is a bargain for a quality deep-threat receiver in today’s free agent market. Andre Branch’s contract also averages to $8 million annually, and I’m okay with that based on his effort and rising from backup to starter for the Dolphins. Perhaps he can keep growing.