With a trade for tight end Julius Thomas looking like a done deal, the Miami Dolphins have already addressed one need this offseason. The bad news for Miami is it has many more.
Some of those needs will be addressed through the draft and others through free agency. Some of the players who helped the Dolphins make their first playoff appearance in eight seasons in 2016, however, are set to hit free agency. Here is a look at five unrestricted free agents the Dolphins should consider bringing back:
1. Kenny Stills, WR
The most highly-touted free agent on the market for the Dolphins is without question, Kenny Stills. Though he finished third on the team in receiving behind Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker, Stills was the home run threat that Miami sorely needed. Stills averaged better than 17 yards per receptions and scored nine receiving touchdowns to lead the team. Bringing back Stills is certainly worth considering, but his price is probably too high.
2. MarQueis Gray or Dion Sims, TE
Despite landing Julius Thomas, the Dolphins are still in the market for another tight end to serve as a compliment. If the price is right, re-signing either Dion Sims or MarQueis Gray could be a good option. Sims is more proven with eight career touchdowns, but Gray was as effective last year and may come at a cheaper price.
3. Andre Branch, DE
The Dolphins locked up Cameron Wake through 2018 over the weekend and will part ways with Mario Williams. The long-term outlook at the defensive end position — a position Miami has named its highest priority — however, is not good. Andre Branch isn’t a long-term solution, but he could add valuable depth. Branch recorded 5.5 sacks last season and 49 total tackles.
4. Spencer Paysinger, LB
Like defensive ends, linebacker is also a key need for the Dolphins to address. While re-signing Donald Butler or Jelani Jenkins might not be worthwhile options for Miami, Spencer Paysinger could be. Paysinger isn’t starting material in the NFL, but he is a valuable depth guy and ranked sixth on the team with 59 total tackles last season. Paysinger earned less than $1 million last season and was one of the better linebackers in pass coverage for a unit that really struggled.
5. Michael Thomas, S
Much like Branch and Paysinger, Michael Thomas is a reliable depth guy and a solid special teamer. Thomas is nothing special at safety, but when he’s been forced to fill in, he’s avoided being a noticeable weakness. Thomas is also serviceable in run support. Last season, he finished with 58 total tackles, a sack and three forced fumbles. Thomas likely also carries a relatively low price tag.
Mike Ferguson is a sports writer and reporter for several publications and the Pro Football Spot lead writer for the Miami Dolphins. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson