Rating the Rumor: Eagles to 'make a push' for Kenny Stills

Rating the Rumor: Eagles to 'make a push' for Kenny Stills

Among the more intriguing free agents this offseason is Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills. Last month, Eliot Shorr-Parks for NJ.com reported the Eagles will "make a push to sign" the four-year veteran when the market opens on March 9.

That’s assuming Stills reaches the market, of course. The Dolphins are interested in re-signing the speedy wideout, who was acquired from the New Orleans Saints in a trade for a third-round draft pick and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe in 2015.

Although preventing Stills from testing free agency might not be easy. Armando Salguero for the Miami Herald is hearing contract offers could be in the $12-million-per-year range, in which case, both player and front office would be wise to see what materializes.

Salguero also corroborates stories that the Eagles would target Stills, describing their interest as "an open secret" around the NFL.

There's no doubt Stills would fill a glaring hole for the Eagles, and not merely the need for a receiver. More specifically, the offense lacks speed on the outside, and Stills is a proven deep threat. He led the league as a rookie with 20.0 yards per reception and finished third with a 17.3 average just this past season.

That being said, $12 million per year seems pricey. Stills’ most productive season was in 2014, racking up 63 receptions for 931 yards, with Drew Brees playing quarterback, mind you. In two years since, Stills only has 69 catches for 1,166 yards for the Dolphins, although he did score a career-high 9 touchdowns in ’16.

Yet $12 million may not be an unrealistic figure, either. Wide receivers had a big year financially in 2016, with the likes of Doug Baldwin, Keenan Allen, Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns all signing long-term contracts that average between $10 and $11.5 million per year. Austin’s case, in particular, might be relevant here, as Stills has produced more yards from scrimmage and the same number of rushing and receiving touchdowns over as many seasons.

These are extensions, too, and not players who reached free agency, where overpaying is the name of the game more often than not. When multiple teams are bidding on Stills, the price will only go up.

Is Stills worth that kind of money? That’s debatable, but he has some things going for him. He only turns 25 in April, and again, fits a very specific need as somebody who can stretch the field. All but one of Stills’ 9 touchdowns last season went for at least 24 yards or more, and since he’s come into the league, only two players have more – Antonio Brown and DeSean Jackson.

Stills also flashed the capability to be more than just a deep threat when Brees was under center. That’s a Hall of Fame-caliber signal caller we’re talking about, so whether Carson Wentz can utilize Stills similarly is unknown, but the ability is there.

Is it worth the monetary risk? Look, the salary cap is going up and receivers are getting paid. It’s impossible to say what the Eagles would be comfortable spending, but it will almost have to be upwards of $10 million annually for anybody who’s actually a difference maker.

The bigger question is whether the Eagles will see Stills as that difference maker. The potential is certainly there, and his speed is enticing.

The initial reaction is to call this a huge overpay if estimates are correct. Then again, if the Eagles view Stills as a young DeSean Jackson in the making, you can understand why they would be willing to take that chance.

Rating the Rumor: Can’t and shouldn't rule it out

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Sixers now officially growing hyper-efficient big men on trees

Three weeks ago, even relatively devout 76ers fans could be forgiven for not recognizing the name Shawn Long. You might've recalled his pretty strong showing for the Sixers at Summer League last July, and if you were on the press mailing list for the Delaware 87ers -- lucky you -- you might have noticed him popping up in a lot of "LONG'S 22 HELPS SEVENS DOWN RED CLAWS" type headlines. But however D-League dominant-he was, it seemed unlikely he'd factor into a Sixers season where the team already had four young, high-upside centers on the roster. 

Then of course of those four bigs, one of 'em got surgery, one of 'em got traded and one one of 'em got hurt (and/or maybe just stinks). So with 20 games to go, Shawn Long was called up to the Sixers, posting 13 and seven in garbage time a blowout loss to the Bucks at home. That seemed likely to be the meaningless highlight of a nothing Sixers campaign for Long, but as Okafor keeps missing games with knee issues, Long has continued to be productive in picking up the slack. And last night, he had his best game of the season, posting 18 and 7 in just 19 minutes against the Chicago Bulls. 

Long's per-36 numbers, already decently absurd before last night's 117-107 Sixers victory -- just can't help ourselves beating these garbage teams -- are now downright hilarious: 25 and 14, shooting 67% from the floor, with a 28.5 PER The sample size is still too small (92 minutes) to mean anything considerable, and at this point in the season it's hard to trust any numbers being put up by anyone. But it's especially notable on these Sixers, who have seen such similar high-efficiency offensive production from Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and (most recently) Richaun Holmes before the beginning of Longsanity. 

It's hard not to start wonder if playing center on this Sixers team is kind of like being a running back for a team with an impenetrable offensive line, or being a ground-ball pitcher on a team with an all-Golden Glove infield. It seems like as long as our big can roll to the hoop, catch the ball and crash the boards off misses, playing with pass-first point guards like T.J. McConnell and Sergio Rodriguez in Brett Brown's increasingly coherent half-court offense ensures at least above-average production from our five-man. (Unless, of course, that center was taken with the No. 3 pick of the 2015 draft, in which case such context doesn't seem to help a ton.) 

Or maybe the Sixers just have a better eye for young centers than Drake does for European slang he half-understands. Either way, the Sixers' ability to get such consistent contributions so far down their depth chart is one of the biggest reasons they seem practically certain to win 30 games one year after barely scrapping their way to double-digits. This season really just never stops being incredible for one reason or another, does it?

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

Watch: Dario Saric not pleased with more water, then remembers to Trust the Friendship

We thought T.J. McConnell learned.

Remember? Pouring water on Dario Saric is not a good idea?

Yeah, thought that was clearly understood after one Sunday in January.

But McConnell was at it again on Friday night after his buddy Saric poured in a career-high 32 points during a 117-107 win over the Bulls. Just like last time, McConnell struck during Saric's postgame interview with CSN's Molly Sullivan.

And, just like last time, Saric looked like he wanted to destroy his point guard.

Look at it unfold ...

But Saric remembered his mantra: Trust the Friendship.

For the postgame moment, watch below. For highlights from Saric's career night and the full interview, watch the video above.