The Miami Dolphins paid a sizable price to hang onto one of their own pass rushers.
NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday that Miami is bringing back Andre Branch on a three-year, $27 million contract. The $9 million-per-year average currently sets him just behind teammate Cameron Wake among 4-3 defensive ends, per OverTheCap.com -- above the likes of Brandon Graham and Cliff Avril on a per-year basis.
Branch compiled 5.5 sacks in 2016 and took over as the starter over the final 11 games of the season as Miami made its playoff push. He spent the previous four seasons with the Jacksonville Jaguars. In five seasons, Branch compiled 19.5 sacks and 140 tackles.
After struggling to start his career, Branch played well last season, proving he can become a reliable veteran who can eat up snaps -- even if he's not dominant in any one facet. Branch played the best football of his career last season and the Dolphins paid to keep him off the open market. The hefty tag for a former second-round disappointment displays a market bereft of pass rushers. Miami is betting Branch won't regress after getting paid.
Keeping the 27-year-old to pair with Wake was a solid move for the Dolphins and gives them two quality starters. But the Dolphins shouldn't be done adding edge players. Miami will certainly look to add a young pass rusher in a deep draft at the position.