Andre Branch

East Notes: Cowboys, Manning, Wake, Jets

Terrance Williams landed on IR after not being listed on the Cowboys‘ injury report going into Week 4. The veteran wide receiver appeared on Dallas’ Week 5 injury list, however, after a personal issue kept him out of the Cowboys-Lions game. Now, both he and Travis Frederick — also placed on IR Saturday — are out until at least the Dec. 9 game against the Eagles. As for Williams’ status with the Cowboys, it’s possible he’s played his last game with the team considering his diminished role (39 snaps in three games). For now, the team is sticking by the embattled receiver, who may face a suspension for his offseason car accident. Williams is under contract through the 2020 season. It would cost the Cowboys ($2.5MM in dead money) more to cut him than it would save them by shedding that contract in 2019, however.

With him, there’s a suspension looming out there that might or might not happen,” Cowboys executive vice president Stephen Jones said Friday during an appearance on 105.3 The Fan (via Pro Football Talk). “He does have some things after coming off that foot injury, which happens. When you have a foot injury, sometimes you rush it back, and you’re not quite there. And then just personal and general, some things that maybe are holding him back right now. I just think it’s a work in progress with him. We think a lot of him. He’s a fighter and competitor, we just got to get him right.”

Here’s the latest from the East divisions, shifting to a Dallas rival:

  • Eli Manning‘s play has apparently drawn scrutiny from Giants decision-makers. The 15th-year starter has not had much success down the field this season, frequently checking the ball down. “Growing frustration” has emerged with Manning’s issues in this area, Pat Leonard of the New York Daily News notes. Odell Beckham Jr., during a recent interview with ESPN’s Josina Anderson (via Leonard), also questioned why Manning isn’t making more downfield throws. “How come we can’t throw the ball for more than 20 yards?” Beckham asked Anderson, rhetorically. “How come we don’t attempt or try to throw the ball for more than 20 yards? Those are questions that we have to figure out.” Manning’s only completed nine 20-plus-yard passes this season, and just six of those traveled 20-plus yards through the air. Manning is completing 74 percent of his passes.
  • Josh Doctson suffered a heel injury during practice earlier in the week and is questionable for the Redskins‘ game against the Saints, per ESPN.com’s John Keim (on Twitter). He did not practice Saturday, which doesn’t bode well for the third-year wideout’s status for Monday night. Maurice Harris will start in Doctson’s place if he’s unable to go, Jay Gruden said.
  • Trumaine Johnson managed a limited practice on Thursday but did not participate Friday because of a quadriceps injury. The Jets‘ top cornerback is out for their Week 5 tilt against the Broncos. Johnson was available and in the starting lineup for each of Gang Green’s first four games, so this will be an adjustment for the 1-3 Jets.
  • The Dolphins will be without Cameron Wake on Sunday. Wake’s knee-related absence will bring second-year defensive end Charles Harris into the lineup opposite Robert Quinn, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. Miami entered the season quite deep at end but will be without Wake, William Hayes (IR) and Andre Branch this week. Wake did not travel with the team to Cincinnati.

Dolphins DE Andre Branch To Miss Time

Dolphins defensive end Andre Branch suffered a knee injury on Sunday that will cause him to miss 2-4 weeks of action, a source tells Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald (on Twitter). It’s a bad blow for a Dolphins D that will also be without fellow defensive end William Hayes for the remainder of the season

The Dolphins entered the year with solid edge rushing depth, but they’ll now have to rely heavily on Charles Harris to rotate in for starting defensive ends Cameron Wake and Robert Quinn. They’ll have to add a player or two for depth, at the very least, and there aren’t a ton of impact DEs left on the open market. Robert Ayers, who had a one-day stint with the Lions in late August, is one of the most notable names left in free agency. Odds are, the Dolphins will have to settle for some less inspiring options while they wait for Branch to heal up.

Branch, 29, tallied five tackles in the first three weeks of the season. In his two previous Dolphins seasons, Branch amassed ten sacks and played mostly as a starter.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Contract Details: Jones, Taylor, Branch, D-Jax, Bitonio, Davis

Here’s the latest on some of the latest contracts agreed to this week.

  • Chandler Jonesfive-year Cardinals extension will pay him $16.5MM per year, Albert Breer of TheMMQB.com tweets. Jones will make $53MM in guaranteed money from his second NFL contract, Jason La Canfora of CBS Sports adds (on Twitter).
  • Tyrod Taylor‘s restructured Bills deal is a two-year, $30.5MM pact, La Canfora reports (on Twitter), adding that the rest of it voids after 2018. Taylor will make $15.5MM in guarantees as a result of the re-done pact and $14.5MM in 2017. La Canfora adds the quarterback stands to collect $16MM in ’18.
  • Andre Branch‘s three-year Dolphins deal is worth $24MM, Ben Volin of the Boston Globe reports (on Twitter). Volin adds the contract includes two fully guaranteed years– at $17MM — for the 27-year-old pass-rusher. Volin adds that Branch could see $3.75MM more via incentives. Branch will receive a $6MM signing bonus, make $2.9MM in base salary in 2017, $7.9MM in ’18 and $6.9MM in ’19, per Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle (on Twitter).
  • DeSean Jackson‘s Buccaneers pact will be worth approximately $11MM per year, Jenna Laine of ESPN.com reports.
  • Joel Bitonio‘s five-year Browns extension will pay out $47.5MM in base salary, Nate Ulrich of Ohio.com tweets, adding $23MM in guarantees are included. The new deal kicks in after Bitonio’s 2017 season, so he’s under contract in Cleveland through 2022.
  • Vernon Davis‘ second Redskins contract will include a $4MM signing bonus and $7.5MM guaranteed, Wilson tweets. His base salaries from 2017-19, respectively, are $2MM, $3.75MM and $4.75MM.
  • Courtney Upshaw re-signing with the Falcons on a one-year deal will result in $1.15MM coming his way in 2017, Wilson tweets. The defender gets a $125K signing bonus and will make $775K in base salary this season.

Dolphins Re-Sign Andre Branch

The Dolphins are re-signing pass-rusher Andre Branch on a long-term deal, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Terms of the deal are not yet known. It’s a three-year contract worth $27MM in total, a source tells Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Cashes in after a resurgence

One report recently assessed Branch’s value at somewhere between $7MM-9MM per year. That sounded a tad high, but it turns out that was right on the money. The $9MM average annual salary will rival the $8MM earned by teammate Cameron Wake. The yearly salary would rank just outside the top-10 among NFL defensive ends.Andre Branch (vertical)

The defensive end appeared in all 16 games last season – his first perfect attendance record since 2013 – and turned in a strong year. He compiled 49 total tackles and 5.5 sacks and made eleven starts. Prior to signing, Branch was listed as our tenth-best edge defender on the open market, ahead of Julius Peppers, Charles Johnson, Datone Jones, Mario Addison, and Dwight Freeney.

Despite the expected interest, Branch was said to be a priority for Miami. Today, the Dolphins got it done. For what it’s worth, there weren’t a whole lot of teams connected to the lineman over the past few days.

Branch would have been sorely missed if he departed for another team. The Dolphins currently have a pair of defensive ends under contract in Wake and Terrence Fede.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Cole’s Latest: Jackson, Zeitler, Poe, Williams

DeSean Jackson looks set for a raise despite having turned 30 during the 2016 season. His market is heating up on Day 2 of the legal tampering period, and it’s expected to clear the $11MM mark in terms of AAV, Jason Cole of Bleacher Report notes (on Twitter). The 10th-year deep threat is likely to leave Washington, and two Redskins rivals — the Cowboys and Eagles — remain interested, per Cole. He adds the Patriots and Buccaneers are in on Jackson as well. We’ve heard Jackson’s salary could climb toward the $12MM-per-year neighborhood. That would lean toward a team like the Bucs ($58.3MM in cap space), with the Cowboys and Eagles on the lower end of the cap-room hierarchy and the Patriots not big on monster skill-position contracts. Dallas’ interest, though, has been disputed, with Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporting the team isn’t interested. The Cowboys have just $8.3MM in cap space.

Here’s more from free agency, courtesy of Cole.

  • Kevin Zeitler may raise the guard salary ceiling, and the Jaguars continue to come up in connection to the former Bengals first-round pick, Cole tweets. The Jags re-signed guard Patrick Omameh on Tuesday, but at $775K, that won’t figure to preclude them from making a splash to upgrade their front. Zeitler’s been connected to a $12MM-per-year deal on a heated guard market. Kelechi Osemele‘s $11.7MM currently tops all guards. Jacksonville has $75.6MM in cap space. The Jags’ line does not have a veteran contract on its interior, with rookie-deal cogs Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann having been the primary starters last season, along with Omameh.
  • Dontari Poe might not get the kind of long-term security he wants this year, and Cole tweets the five-year Chiefs starting nose tackle could opt for a one-year deal and re-enter free agency in 2018. The Chiefs prioritized Eric Berry among their big two free agents, signing the cornerstone safety to a record extension. They also drafted Chris Jones in the second round in 2016 and are short on cap space, with a league-low $4.6MM presently. Poe made Pro Bowls in 2013 and ’14, but a 2015 back surgery slowed him. And Poe’s 2016 season, per Pro Football Focus, didn’t compare with his work at his peak. Cole notes Poe could look for a team that wants him to rush the passer more. Poe made just more than $6MM in 2016 on a fifth-year option.
  • Conversely, Ravens 3-4 nose Brandon Williams looks like he’ll do well in his first UFA foray. Cole tweets the fifth-year defender could well sign for around what the Giants paid Damon Harrison last year (five years, $46.25MM). That would bridge the gap for 3-4 nose players between Marcell Dareus and the field, and it might be more than the Ravens ($12MM-plus in space) can afford.
  • After one tampering day, Cole notes (on Twitter) Andre Branch could have a strong market. Cole associates the veteran defensive end as being worth between $7-9MM per year. Branch recorded 5.5 sacks on what could be a short-term stay with the Dolphins in 2016. As of January, the Fins wanted to keep Branch in Miami, but not much has surfaced on the now-two-time free agent since.
  • The Tony Jefferson rise seems real, with Cole now reporting (on Twitter) the Cardinals safety could earn more than $9MM annually. Previously, Cole had Jefferson — likely the market’s top safety after Berry re-signed in Kansas City — pegged to command around $7MM per year. But Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com attached the safety to a market around nearly $10MM AAV.

PFR’s Top 50 NFL Free Agents

It’s free agency week! This year, thanks to the salary cap increase, the dollars will be flying and players will make more than you ever could have expected. Our lists for offense and defense rank free agents based on overall ability, but our Top 50 ranks players based on earning power. Here, you’ll get a good sense of what the market will be like this week and who the big fish are.

The league’s “legal tampering” window will open on Tuesday at 11:00am CT. Technically, teams and players aren’t permitted to finalize agreements on contracts during that legal tampering window, but that’s often treated as a guideline rather than a hard and fast rule. We will almost certainly see handshake agreements go down on Tuesday and Wednesday before they become official on Thursday, the technical beginning of free agency.

Our list of 2017’s top 50 free agents doesn’t include restricted free agents, or franchise tagged players, since they’re effectively restricted free agents as well.

With those caveats out of the way, let’s dive right in! Here are Pro Football Rumors’ top 50 NFL free agents for 2017, along with a few predictions on how much they might earn and what teams could be in the mix to sign them:

1. A.J. Bouye, CB (Texans): Bouye is an overnight sensation, going from unknown to elite talent in the blink of an eye. No one knows exactly what to make of Bouye, but his upside is too much for teams to pass up. The Texans declined to use the franchise tag on the 25-year-old (26 in August), but they’re still hoping to get a deal done this week. The Jets are said to have interest, but it’s not clear if they’ll have the room to get something done. Cornerback-needy teams like the Panthers, Saints, Jaguars, Titans, Bears, and Eagles can be expected to at least kick the tires on this year’s top player in the secondary. Could something like Janoris Jenkins‘ five year, $62.5MM contract ($28.8MM fully guaranteed) from last year be within reach? Jenkins had a longer history of success than Bouye, but consider these facts: Bouye nearly two years younger than Jenkins was at time of signing and the salary cap has risen by about $12MM.
Signed with Jaguars for five years, $67.5MM.A.J. Bouye (vertical)

2. Alshon Jeffery, WR (Bears): He was hurt for most of 2015 and he slumped along with the entire Bears offense in 2016, but his natural ability is still evident and he is a legitimate No. 1 wide receiver. At one point, it seemed like Jeffery could wind up as the league’s highest-paid wide receiver. That won’t be the case, but he will likely get more cash than any other wide receiver in this year’s class. The Eagles and Titans have been hot on his tail for some time now. The 49ers could also get involved and a return to the Bears cannot be ruled out either. Ultimately, Jeffery should wind up fetching at least $10MM per year and perhaps as much as $12MM per year on his next deal.
Signed with Eagles for one year, $9.5MM.

3. Kenny Stills, WR (Dolphins): Jeffery isn’t the only wide receiver who could fetch $12MM per year. Stills isn’t necessarily the best wide receiver on his own team, but he is just on the cusp of his 25th birthday and his ability to stretch the field is tantalizing. It doesn’t sound like the Dolphins are ready to be the highest bidder for his services and it’s not hard to imagine a team like the Eagles landing him. Naturally, there’s quite a bit of overlap between the potential suitors for Jeffery and Stills: the Eagles, Titans, Bears, and 49ers will probably come calling. The Rams may not have enough room to squeeze in Stills, but they could certainly use a playmaker like him if they do not re-sign Kenny Britt. Stills reportedly likes the West Coast (who doesn’t?) so the Niners and Rams could have a leg up on the others if the bidding is close.
Re-signed with Dolphins for four years, $32MM.

4. Dont’a Hightower, LB (Patriots): The market is capped for non-rush linebackers, but Hightower is pretty much the best at what he does and is also lauded for his intangibles. The Patriots have always embraced the “next man up” philosophy, so it is possible they will allow him to go elsewhere. The Dolphins have been frequently connected to Hightower, but that might be too ambitious for a team that has multiple major needs to address. The Colts might also make sense, but the price might be too rich for their blood. A Patriots return appears to be the most likely outcome, but anything is possible.
Re-signed with Patriots for four years, $35.5MM. 

5. Kevin Zeitler, G (Bengals): Zeitler has age on his side and he’s one of the safest free agents in the top ten after three consecutive years of dominance. Interior offensive linemen don’t get as much love as their counterparts on the outside, but they are still incredibly vital and Zeitler’s next contract will reflect that. If he doesn’t circle back to the Bengals, the Jaguars, Cardinals, Packers, and Seahawks all make varying degrees of sense for Zeitler. From a football standpoint, you can add the Jets to that group too, but I’m not sure they can meet a ~$12MM/year asking price.
Signed with Browns for five years, $60MM.

6. Logan Ryan, CB (Patriots): There are bigger names available at the cornerback position, but Ryan slots ahead of many of them after a career year. It also doesn’t hurt that this fresh-faced Super Bowl champ only just turned 26 in February. If the Patriots don’t tie him down, Ryan’s earning power could conceivably vault him past Trumaine Johnson in terms of guaranteed cash. The Jaguars and Titans would be wise to zero in on Ryan if they can’t land Bouye and it’s possible that some of their evaluators might even prefer Ryan over the Houston standout. Ryan’s next deal will probably pay him eight figures per year and it should be a lengthy pact.
Signed with Titans for three years, $30MM.

7. Terrelle Pryor, WR (Browns): There is strong mutual interest in a new deal between Pryor and the Browns. Still, the Browns passed on the opportunity to franchise tag the Ohio State product and he now appears poised to test the open market. With pretty much just one year to show, how will Pryor fare in free agency? His next deal should pay him at least $10MM/year and he could get up to $12MM/year. In addition to the Browns, the usual suspects for this year’s high-end WRs will explore signing Pryor (say it with me): Eagles, Titans, and 49ers. There’s conflicting word about whether the Steelers will get involved. The Giants are known to have interest, but I don’t think they’ll be splurging on free agents like they did one year ago.
Signed with Redskins for one year, $6MM.

8 .Ricky Wagner, OT (Ravens): There’s already talk of Wagner fetching around $10MM/year and it’s not like this year’s free agent market is flush with young, quality tackles. When you also consider the lack of quality tackles in the draft, it’s apparent that Wagner is about to get PAID, in all caps.Believe it or not, $10MM/year might be his floor. When all is said and done, he’ll be the league’s biggest earner at right tackle. The Bears are particularly interested in Wagner, so he could go from the AFC North to the NFC North this week.
Signed with Lions for five years, $47.5MM.

Calais Campbell (vertical)9. Calais Campbell, DL (Cardinals): Campbell was supposed to be an afterthought in Arizona after the addition of Chandler Jones. Perhaps motivated by a perceived slight, Campbell turned in a stellar year. Now, the Cardinals would very much like to keep him, but they can only go so far as they back up the Brinks truck for Jones and look into retaining other key free agents. If Jones does not agree to a cap-smoothing long-term deal between now and March 9th, the odds of Campbell leaving increase. The Jaguars are said to be a leading contender for Campbell while the Titans, Broncos, Colts, and Bears could also use a force like him. His age (31 in September) gives him a bit of a ceiling in terms of overall compensation, but he should still do nicely this month.
Signed with Jaguars for four years, $60MM.

10. Stephon Gilmore, CB (Bills): In terms of pure talent, Gilmore might be the best cornerback available. Trouble is, no one knows what to make of him after a down 2016. Some have openly theorized that Gilmore was playing it safe to avoid injury in his pivotal contract year. It’s also possible that Buffalo’s injuries in the front seven put undue stress on the secondary. The Bears are reportedly high on Gilmore and he may represent a cheaper option than Bouye or Ryan. A Bills return would also make sense here.
Signed with Patriots for five years, $65MM.

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Top 2017 Free Agents By Position: Defense

NFL free agency will get underway on Thursday, March 9th, and while the list of free agents will change between now and then, we do have some idea of who will be available when free agency kicks off. The frenzy is right around the corner and it’s time for us to break down the outlook for each position. After looking at offense, we’ll tackle defense and special teams today.

[RELATED: Top 2017 NFL Free Agents By Position: Offense]

Listed below are our rankings for the top 15 free agents at each defensive position. These rankings aren’t necessarily determined by the value of the contracts – or the amount of guaranteed money – that each player is expected to land in free agency. These are simply the players we like the most at each position, with both short- and long-term value taken into account.

Restricted and exclusive-rights free agents, as well as players who received the franchise tag, aren’t listed here, since the roadblocks in place to hinder another team from actually acquiring most of those players prevent them from being true free agents.

We’ll almost certainly be higher or lower on some free agents than you are, so feel free to weigh in below in our comments section to let us know which players we’ve got wrong.

Here’s our breakdown of the current top 15 free agents by defensive position for 2017:

Edge defender:

  1. Chandler Jones
  2. Melvin Ingram
  3. Jason Pierre-Paul
  4. Nick Perry
  5. Jabaal Sheard
  6. James Harrison
  7. John Simon
  8. DeMarcus Ware
  9. Lorenzo Alexander
  10. Andre Branch
  11. Julius Peppers
  12. Charles Johnson
  13. Datone Jones
  14. Mario Addison
  15. Dwight Freeney

The Cardinals have already made it abundantly clear that Chandler Jones will see the franchise tag this offseason, and Melvin Ingram and Jason Pierre-Paul are also candidates to be tagged by the Chargers and Giants, respectively. If the latter two are able to hit the open market unfettered, however, they both figure to break the bank. Ingram, Pro Football Focus’ No. 6 edge defender, could be a fit for both 3-4 and 4-3 schemes, while JPP will be looking for a long-term commitment after signing consecutive one-year deals.Chandler Jones (vertical)

The rest of this year’s crop of free agent pass rushers is a blend of young defenders searching for their first payday and veterans on the hunt for one last contract. Among the players with youth still on their side, Packers edge defenders Nick Perry and Datone Jones figure to interest different clubs, as Perry is a better match for a 3-4 defense while Jones needs to restart his career as a 4-3 defensive end. John Simon has been overlooked while playing alongside the likes of J.J. Watt, Jadeveon Clowney, and Whitney Mercilus but could represent a hidden gem, while the Dolphins are reportedly prioritizing Andre Branch.

After managing nine sacks over the first nine years of his NFL tenure, Lorenzo Alexander busted out with 12.5 quarterback takedowns in 2016, and now could be looking for a double-digit annual salary. James Harrison and Charles Johnson, meanwhile, look like good bets to return to Steelers and Panthers, respectively, but DeMarcus Ware could be something of a wild card — after missing 11 games in the past two seasons, does the 34-year-old have enough left in the tank? The same could be asked of Dwight Freeney, who at age-37 posted three sacks in a rotational role for the Falcons.

Interior defensive line:

  1. Kawann Short
  2. Calais Campbell
  3. Johnathan Hankins
  4. Brandon Williams
  5. Dontari Poe
  6. Chris Baker
  7. Bennie Logan
  8. Nick Fairley
  9. Alan Branch
  10. Jared Odrick
  11. Karl Klug
  12. Terrell McClain
  13. Lawrence Guy
  14. Earl Mitchell
  15. Stacy McGee

Unlike the edge defender market, the 2017 cadre of interior defensive lineman shouldn’t be overly affected by the franchise tender. Head coach Ron Rivera recently confessed the Panthers will “probably” have to use the tag on Kawann Short, but the rest of the defensive tackles listed here should be able to hit the open market. Of the remaining defenders, Campbell is the best overall player, but given that he’s entering his age-31 season, he may not cost as much as Johnathan Hankins, Brandon Williams, and Dontari Poe.Johnathan Hankins (Vertical)

Hankins is only 24 years old, and though the Giants are trying to retain him along with the rest of their defensive core, the 6’3″, 320-pound mauler should represent an attractive option to a number of clubs this offseason. Williams, too, offers a massive presence on the inside, while Poe could intrigue clubs based on his first-round pedigree and athleticism (though his play hasn’t always matched his potential). The Redskins’ Chris Baker is a solid, well-rounded defensive tackle, and could constitute a consolation prize for teams that miss out on their top targets.

The rest of the class offers an interesting mix of nose tackles (Bennie Logan), interior pass rushers (Nick Fairley, Earl Mitchell), and run stoppers (Karl Klug, Alan Branch), so clubs hoping to bolster their defensive line should find no shortage of options. Jared Odrick recently hit free agency after being released by the Jaguars, while Terrell McClain, Lawrence Guy, and Stacy McGee could be underrated finds for the right team. McClain, for what it’s worth, has already been linked to the Falcons.

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Fins Prioritizing Kenny Stills, Andre Branch

Free agency is looming for wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch, but the Dolphins are going to work hard to lock the two up before March. The club will meet with the representatives for both players at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., this week in an attempt to set “a baseline starting point in negotiations,” according to Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald.

Kenny Stills[RELATED: Surgery For Ryan Tannehill?]

“We want to keep our own,” executive vice president Mike Tannenbaum said. “We’re never going to bat a thousand. The system just is not set up for it. We’ve been able to extend some players before I started — some like Mike Pouncey or Ryan Tannehill we were able to do — but candidly, you can’t keep them all. We understand that and acknowledge that.

Both Stills and Branch are coming off productive seasons, and each has professed a “love” for the Dolphins since the team’s season ended. In the first 16-start campaign of his four-year career, Stills, 24, averaged a club-high 17.3 yards per catch on 42 receptions and also led the Dolphins in touchdown grabs (nine). The 27-year-old Branch set a career high in starts (11) and posted 5.5 sacks – his second-best total since entering the NFL in 2012 – after inking a modest free agent deal to leave Jacksonville last March.

On Stills, who joined the Dolphins in a 2015 trade with the Saints, general manager Chris Grier stated: “It’s important for us to bring him back. We’d like to have him back. It’s his right to test the market and see what he can get, but we’d like to have him back.”

As with Stills and Branch, the Dolphins would like to re-sign soon-to-be free agent tight end Dion Sims, reports Salguero. Sims is less of a priority than Stills and Branch, however, and it’s unclear if his reps will meet with the Dolphins in Mobile. The 25-year-old logged personal bests in receptions (26) and TDs (four) during his 14-game 2016. He averaged under 10 yards per catch, though, leading to the possibility that the Dolphins could look for a better playmaking tight end this offseason.

In danger of losing each of Stills, Branch and Sims within the next couple months, the Dolphins aren’t yet focusing on extensions for wideout Jarvis Landry or safety Reshad Jones, per Salguero. Those two cornerstones are already under contract for next season, so there’s less urgency for Miami to determine their futures. While Salguero expects the Dolphins to ultimately ink Landry and Jones to new deals, talks haven’t yet begun. Indeed, Grier revealed Wednesday that “we’ll worry about the guys right now with the immediate free agents and then we’ll start working towards the guys that are still under contract.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Dolphins Notes: Jordan, Stills, Branch, Sims

Following the Dolphins‘ season-ending loss to Pittsburgh, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald looks at potential changes to the squad. The writer believes that defensive end Dion Jordan has probably played his final game for the organization. The former No. 3 overall pick has been suspended twice and has undergone a pair of knee surgeries, and Salguero reports that “he’s having “issues” again that effectively will get him cut this offseason.”

Salguero doesn’t specify what kind of issues the oft-banned pass-rusher is having, but should this mark the end of Jordan’s tenure in Miami, it will conclude the tenure of one of the worst draft picks in team history. Jordan has not played in a game since 2014 and has just three career sacks. Waiving Jordan would save the Dolphins $3.225MM.

Here’s more from out of Miami.

  • Kenny Stills comprises part of the Dolphins’ UFA contingent, and the former Saints wideout unequivocally wants to return to Miami. Stills enjoyed a bounce-back year after a down first season in south Florida, hauling in 42 passes for 726 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. ESPN.com’s James Walker notes Stills could be the team’s top free agent. “I want to be back here,” Stills said. “I love this team. I love these guys. We did something special, just starting 1-4. So we’re going to do whatever we can to try to make it happen.” The Dolphins don’t have a veteran wideout contract on their payroll but are lining up a Jarvis Landry extension, and Stills could be an attractive commodity on the market, being just 24.
  • Andre Branch wants to be back with the Dolphins as well but may be less enthralled than Stills about the certainty of a return. He could be a key part of this equation, with Cameron Wake set to turn 35 this month and Mario Williams almost certainly being a cap casualty. “I love this place,” the fifth-year defensive end said, via Walker. “They believed in me when not too many people did. I appreciate them for that. But we will see how it goes.”
  • When assessing the Fins’ priorities in terms of their UFA strategy, Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald notes re-signing Stills will be high on the list, along with finding a replacement for right guard Jermon Bushrod. But a Dion Sims re-up will factor in as well. An impending UFA, Sims said Adam Gase views him as a starter going forward. Miami does not intend to re-sign Jordan Cameron, who wants to keep playing despite rampant injury struggles. More known for his blocking, Sims caught 24 passes for 256 yards and four TDs this season. Beyond Sims, Miami didn’t boast much at tight end this season.
  • When accounting for the $8.4MM in carryover from this year, the Dolphins figure to enter the offseason with approximately $36MM in cap space. The team moving on from Jordan, Williams and linebacker Koa Misi as expected should push that total up to $52MM, Jackson notes.
  • Earlier today, the Dolphins filled Vance Joseph‘s DC position by promoting linebackers coach Matt Burke.

Ben Levine contributed to this report

Extra Points: Anderson, Branch, Logan, Lions

Broncos running back C.J. Anderson is ahead of schedule in his recovery from a torn meniscus, tweets Troy Renck of Denver7. Anderson was placed on injured reserve in late October, but Denver could choose to designate him as their IR returner if it so chooses. Anderson must miss a minimum of eight games, meaning he could come back for important late-season divisional contests against the Chiefs and Raiders, then presumably stay on the roster for a potential playoff run.

Here’s more from around the NFL:

  • Andre Branch is enjoying a career resurgence with the Dolphins and he says he would like to continue in Miami beyond this year. “One hundred percent,” the pending free agent told Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald when asked if he wants to re-sign. “We got something going here, and it’s fun. I wake up every morning, and you have a reason to wake up. It’s not just, ‘I woke up to another one.’ The coaching staff brings energy each and every day. The players bring energy each and every day. And if anyone’s slacking, you’re going to know. I’m my biggest critic, and I never want to let my brothers or my coaches down. So for me, it’s starting to feel like family. It’s a lot of things that when you wake up, I haven’t felt in a very long time. So I’m happy here.” After playing out his one-year, $2.75MM deal, Branch will be seeking a pay bump and a longer commitment on his next deal. While there will be (presumably) mutual interest between him and the Dolphins, money may be a factor.
  • When asked about a potential extension for defensive tackle Bennie Logan, Eagles executive Howie Roseman said he “would love to keep Bennie, ” according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer (Twitter link). Logan, 27 next month, will become a free agent next spring. Through six starts this season, Logan ranks the No. 44 interior defender among 122 qualifiers, per Pro Football Focus.
  • Kai Forbath‘s contract with the Vikings is for two years at minimum salary, according to Ben Goessling of ESPN.com (Twitter link). However, the deal contains no guaranteed money, so Minnesota will easily be able to escape the pact if Forbath struggles to close the 2016 campaign. Forbath was signed to replace Blair Walsh, who was finally waived after missing several kicks this season.
  • The Lions worked out wide receiver Tyler Murphy today, according to a source who spoke with Aaron Wilson of he Houston Chronicle (Twitter link). Murphy, a 2015 undrafted free agent, was waived off Miami’s injured reserve list in August and hadn’t been heard from since.