Dolphins' re-signing of Kenny Stills is great news for their offensive upside in 2017

1:00 | NFL
Three players poised to cash in during free agency
Thursday March 9th, 2017

GRADE: A

One could look at Kenny Stills’s stats the past two seasons (69 total receptions on 144 passes—a lousy 48% catch rate) and wonder why there were so many teams interested in him ahead of free agency, or why the Dolphins just retained him with a four-year deal worth $32 million and $20 million guaranteed.

Don’t get hung up on those stats. The Dolphins would love Stills to become a 1,000-yard receiver for them, of course, but at just 24 years old (25 in April), the Oklahoma product has established himself among the league’s most dangerous deep threats. Stills scored nine times last season and averaged a whopping 17.3 yards per catch, a mark bested by just two players: DeSean Jackson and Chris Hogan, both at 17.9.

Stills is a still-developing yet already dangerous weapon for the Dolphins’ offense. Miami coach Adam Gase made it no secret at the combine that he wanted Stills in 2017.

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“You just want to get your guys back,” Gase said. “Kenny and myself have a very close relationship. The worst thing about the NFL is sometimes that doesn’t matter. Sometimes the money is what guys are looking for. Kenny, obviously, he’d love to stay here but he’s going to stay for the right price and what’s comfortable for him, and I don’t think anybody would blame him for that.”

Perhaps Stills could have found a larger deal outside of Miami, but that comfort factor was here. The Saints traded Stills the Dolphins two years ago, and he clearly has a role in Gase’s offense moving forward.

In fact, if all goes according to plan, the Dolphins could have their best passing attack in some time next season. Stills and DeVante Parker will team up again outside, with the reliable Jarvis Landry in the slot and newcomer Julius Thomas at tight end. Miami may be crossing its fingers on Thomas bouncing back and on Parker’s continued development, but it knows what it has in Stills.

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There is something to be said for continuity, especially so as Gase heads into his second year at the helm. His offense can take a while to grasp, so giving the skill position players another full off-season running it should only help. While the Dolphins could have found a cheaper downfield threat in the draft (and still might), that player would be starting from scratch.

Keeping Stills in tow, at a reasonable price, is great news for the Dolphins’ 2017 offensive upside.

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