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