ESPN’s Bill Barnwell rips Miami Dolphins’ free agency contracts

The Dolphins thought they made a wise deal with Stills, but ESPN’s Bill Barnwell disagrees. (Getty Images)

The Dolphins believe themselves to be having a fine offseason. One of ESPN’s top football analysts believes otherwise.

Bill Barnwell shredded Miami’s four biggest moves this month, grading none of them higher than the C earned by signing linebacker Lawrence Timmons to a two-year, $12 million deal.

Barnwell crushed the four years, $32 million that Kenny Stills got and immediately predicted a dropoff in his production. He noted that Stills’ catch percentage of 47.9 the past two years—he went up to 52 percent last year after 43 percent in 2015—is fifth-worst in the NFL.

“Mike Tannenbaum is paying for the player the Dolphins want Stills to be, which is something approximating DeSean Jackson,” he wrote. “At 24, Stills could develop into that sort of player, but he hasn’t been that guy yet in his career.”

He had similar thoughts on Andre Branch’s three-year, $27 million contract. Barnwell believes the Dolphins could have found a suitable replacement at a much cheaper price because, “Most players are going to look effective playing next to two Hall of Fame-caliber defenders,” like Ndamukong Suh and Cameron Wake

The most surprising criticism was that of the $60 million, five-year extension for safety Reshad Jones, who is Miami’s most valuable defensive player other than Suh. After a Pro Bowl season in 2015 and starting on that track last season before a rotator cuff injury, Jones expects to come back fully healthy well before training camp this year.

Barnwell blasted that extension in part because it came much closer to all-pro Eric Berry ($13 million per year) than it did Eric Weddle ($6.5 million per year).

“Jones is a good safety being paid like a Hall of Fame-caliber defender,” he wrote. “The Dolphins could have paid him $33.8 million or so over the next three years by going year-to-year and keeping Jones for the final season of his current deal before franchising him twice… It’s hard to see how they saved any money with this deal, and unless Jones hits a new level of play when most safeties are beginning to decline, it’s close to impossible to figure Jones will outplay this contract.”

[Kenny Stills says money didn’t drive his free agency process]

[Inside the Dolphins: Three good stories from Chris Grier reveal how they make their picks and why this time of year matters so much]

[Reshad Jones says Miami Dolphins “kept their word”]

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