To properly evaluate a decision like Kenny Stills, it’s an analysis of supply and demand, both within the Miami Dolphins organization as well as the potential interest of other NFL clubs.
Let’s look at the general free agent WR picture first: here’s a list of free agents by position. Keep in mind, Kenny Stills was tied for 6th in the NFL with 9 TD’s. There’s not one free agent that had as many TD’s as Kenny Stills this year. That drives the price up.
Alshon Jeffery, Ted Ginn Jr., Kamar Aiken, Terrelle Pryor, DeSean Jackson...the WR market has a TON of mid-level talent (Jeffery is the WR prize of free agency IMO), so I think Kenny Stills’ market is ripe. Kenny Stills is one of the few “speed/deep threats” of this free agent market class, and he’s young. That drives the price up.
Internally, Kenny Stills, the Week 1 drop notwithstanding, made plays for the Miami Dolphins in 2016. We just so happen to have an elite slot WR and will likely command significant dollars imminently. We just so happen to have an erratic 1st round draft investment. We just so happen to have traded draft capital to select a WR in the 3rd round in last year’s draft. We previously sacrificed a 3rd rounder to obtain Kenny Stills in the first place. This makes the internal decision convoluted. I’d say it’s a good problem to have as an organization, and that might put Kenny Stills at a set price. We’ve seen the team balk at other players last year.
The dynamic of the NFL WR free agent market and the internal decision to determine his merit in the ongoing offense certainly shapes this decision, but in the end, in my opinion, it’ll depend on whether Kenny Stills wants to get paid and risk the unknown or sign a more modest deal but continue momentum as a player.
The Miami Dolphins organization also has to balance Stills’ potential deal with the potential deals Landry and Parker may or may not dictate. Despite the salary cap increasing year after year, there’s only so much money that can be allocated to a certain position before it becomes fiscally irresponsible.
I look for the team to give him an average to above-average deal commensurate with his statistics and influence on the offense, but due to the buyer’s market of free agency, Stills could reasonably leave for more money if he so chooses. I think this is less a Miami Dolphins decision than it is a Kenny Stills decision.