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Dolphins explain why they love Stills, Wallace trades

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- On the surface it seems the Miami Dolphins got worked in trading away Mike Wallace after acquiring Kenny Stills.

Miami gave up Wallace and a seventh-round pick to Minnesota for a fifth round pick.

The Dolphins had already traded linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and third-round pick to New Orleans for Stills.

But the Dolphins are very happy with the deals they made and don't see a disparity in losing Wallace for only a fifth while getting the less accomplished Stills for a third. Why?

Because the team doesn't view Wallace and Stills in the same market.

The Dolphins see Stills as a young, ascending, proven receiver who is still cheap because he's still playing on his rookie contract. The Dolphins saw Wallace as an older, more expensive and somewhat troubled veteran.

The Dolphins actually traded Wallace to Minnesota for the same compensation the Chicago Bears traded Brandon Marshall to the New York Jets -- the player and a seventh-round pick for a fifth-round pick.

And both teams -- Miami and Chicago -- view the player they dealt as somewhat troubled.

"Mike contributed the last few years," Dolphins executive vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum said during a break at the NFL owners' meeting. "We felt once we had Kenny Stills, it was a good opportunity for [Wallace] in Minnesota. They were interested in him a couple of years ago when he was a free agent. It was good for him and we felt it was good for us. It gives him a chance to get a fresh start and for us with Kenny Stills in our offense and where we project him with Jarvis Landry we just thought it was the right fit to do that now."

Make no mistake this wasn't merely an exchange where talent was considered. Salary cap was considered. Chemistry in the locker room was considered. And, yes, that episode in which Wallace left the field complaining in the 2014 season-finale, the one that led to his benching by coach Joe Philbin for not being in the game, was considered.

"I wasn't here for all that," Tannenbaum said. "There were challenges that were in the past. We're not hiding from that. With that said, we have to look at all those things. We could have made the cap work but you do have to look at the economics when you make a decision in our system. At the end of the day when you look at who we had and where we're going to go, it was the best decision for us.

"It leaves us with flexibility moving forward not only this year but in the future. I would say the variables you want to balance short term and long term is we have Kenny Stills here. And I don't want to say we're replacing Mike Wallace one-for-one [with Stills] because he's not, but we have another young receiver who's played in the league, who is explosive. It gave us the confidence to make that move."

The Dolphins may use their first-round pick on a wide receiver. Tannenbaum acknowledges that. He also says maybe the team won't go that direction but the fact he's open to the idea suggests a wide receiver could be added in the draft and then a veteran could come afterward.

(Nothing is imminent on adding a veteran, per a source).

But Stills is a player the team has very high hopes for.

"That old axiom I believe a lot in that the tape sets the floor and the character sets the ceiling," Tannenbaum said. "He's played in the league. He's had a fair amount of production. His production is what it is -- it's been good. It hasn't been prolific by any stretch but we felt for what we're asking that position to do there was explosiveness. And the routes he runs well were responsibilities we felt were pretty close to what we're going to do with our offense.

"The more research we did on Kenny not only at Oklahoma but New   Orleans we felt football was important. He's young, there's a lot of good football ahead of him. So we really feel he has a bright future."