Throughout this free agency profile process, we’ve mainly focused on defensive players thus far. Today, we’re going to veer into the offensive lane and look into a wide receiver. The Cowboys have two receivers set to hit free agency. Both Brice Butler and Terrance Williams could be on different teams by the time the first whistle is blown in the 2017 NFL season.
Dallas has shown an affinity for keeping their guys around in free agency. That’ll likely be the first course of action again this offseason. However, what if a certain quarterback finds himself in a new uniform and tries to recruit one of his former wideouts? It’s certainly possible and has happened before in this league. With these two Cowboys, there are folks that would sign the cheaper of the two and there are others that would say let them both walk, depending on who you ask.
For what it’s worth, you probably would at least entertain the possibility of bringing back Terrance Williams, as he’s the better receiver of the two. This is also a position that has some intriguing options in the draft. If the scenario should arise that both guys are on different teams next season, there are some veteran options that could peak some interest. One guy that makes a lot of sense is Kenny Stills, the somewhat maligned receiver from the Dolphins.
WR Kenny Stills, 24, Miami Dolphins. 6’0, 195 lbs
Stills is similar to Terrance Williams as both guys have had their share of detractors since coming into the league. Both guys played in the Big 12, both guys put up nice numbers, both guys were drafted in 2013 with Williams taken in the third round and Stills in the fifth. These two guys even have relatively the same numbers in their NFL careers. It’s actually quite strange; they both have 20 touchdowns in their careers with 2,700+ receiving yards each. They’re also similar in that to this point, their bread-and-butter has been as deep threats.
Stills is more of a hand catcher whereas everyone in the world has made their opinions heard about Williams’ body-catching style of play. Though they do have plenty of similarities, Stills’ NFL journey has been a lot different than Williams’.
Stills was drafted by the New Orleans Saints in 2013 and had football in his blood. His father, Ken Stills, was a safety for the Green Bay Packers from 1985-1989 and spent one season with the Vikings before calling it quits with back issues. His uncle, Gary Stills, was a linebacker who played from 1999-2008. Needless to say, Kenny was a football prodigy and set all kinds of records at Oklahoma.
Stills had some off the field issues that was a bit worrisome to NFL personnel people. He did get a DUI and was arrested with fellow teammate Tony Jefferson. Despite setting records in Norman, Stills was given a third-round grade and waited for an extra two rounds to hear his name called.
His rookie season went well as he started 10 games, caught 32 passes for 641 yards with five touchdowns. He also had a whopping 20 yards per reception average. In his second year with the Saints, he only started seven games but racked up 931 yards on 63 receptions with three touchdowns.
Stills was looking for an increased role in the New Orleans offense in 2015 but that was dashed when he was traded to the Dolphins during free agency. Miami sent linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick to the Saints in exchange for Stills’ services. His first year in Miami wasn’t what he had hoped for as he only started eight games, had 23 receptions for 440 yards and three touchdowns.
This past season was actually sort of a breakout for Stills and his best season since he’s been in the NFL in terms of playmaking ability. He finished the 2016 season with 43 receptions, 726 yards, and nine touchdowns (led team). Though he’s not the prototypical number one guy, a spot reserved for Jarvis Landry, Stills showed that he can be a great complement to Landry.
It’s unknown what the receiver market will be this season but if they end up losing their own, Stills would be an adequate replacement. One thing that sets him apart from other receivers is his ability to get separation and though he’s not the fastest guy, he’s got really good speed off the ball. He’s a solid route runner and he trusts his hands, though he had issues with drops early in his career. With youth still on his side and the ability to get behind defenses and make them pay, it would be interesting to see what he could do in the silver and blue.