Dolphins general manager Chris Grier disputed the narrative that the organization and Kenny Stills are far apart on money, saying there’s “been good dialogue back and forth” with Stills’ representation.
“With Kenny, we're still talking to him,” Grier said. “He earned the right to be a free agent. Kenny's a very important part for us. We all feel he contributed greatly to our success last year. Hopefully we'll get something done here. Like I said, all these guys, you can't be mad at them. He's earned the right to reach free agency and hopefully we'll get something with him done."
Grier, speaking at the NFL Scouting Combine, added: “With any negotiation, they're going to ask for the moon and the team is going to come in and try to low-ball. But it's just the bartering back and forth.”
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Dolphins coach Adam Gase said this on the matter: “One day I feel good about it, one day I feel like crap about it. I hate free agency. You just want to get your guys back.”
Stills is expected to sign a lucrative, multi-year contract in the next week. Whether it’s with the Dolphins or another team remains to be seen. While there have been differing media accounts of what his asking price is, it’s safe to assume he’ll earn somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million a year.
The Dolphins are simultaneously trying to extend Andre Branch, as well. The defensive end is also a week away from becoming an unrestricted free agent.
“We've been in communication with his agent, we've been talking back and forth,” Grier said. “He just wanted to see where the market is, the agent is, so we're just dealing with it right now. We want Andre back. He did a nice job for us. Hopefully we get something done.”
Other takeaways from Grier’s 18-minute Q&A with reporters:
▪ The Dolphins are “working towards” signing Reshad Jones to a contract extension and “right now” expect Jones to participate in the voluntary spring program. Jones sat out the program last year to protest his contract, which has one year left on it.
“We anticipate him being there,” Grier said. “He and coach Gase developed a really good relationship.”
▪ Of Ryan Tannehill and his injured left knee, Grier said: “Ryan has done a tremendous job working. He’ll be there in April when they start with his teammates. He’s fine, he’s good. I saw him the other day and he’s working out, he’s doing a great [job]. So he’ll be healthy, he’s ready to go and I know he’ll be excited for next year.”
▪ Grier reiterated that he runs the draft, but takes input from everyone, most especially Gase and Mike Tannenbaum. “Adam looks at the players that I tell him to look at because he doesn’t have to look at all the players. The one great thing about Adam is he’s like, ‘Listen, whoever you want me to look at, just tell me. Whoever you believe in, I trust you.’ He said, ‘We did great last year and let’s go.’”
▪ The Dolphins have not spent to the salary cap in years, choosing instead to let that money roll over into the next year.
When asked why they have that philosophy instead of adding depth with the leftover funds, Grier responded: “ I don’t think spending to the cap every year is what we have to do to be successful. You look at some of the teams that are winning they’re not spending [to the cap]. For here, for so long, always the big fish — go out and spend all the money on everybody. For us we’re just trying to build the team the right way and trying to spread it now with us. We have no set plan in terms of how much we’re going to spend. We’re just working right now on our plan of who we’re going to target in free agency.”