Saints: 4 remaining free agents with connections to New Orleans
By Kristen Wong
1. Kenny Stills
Start with a Kenny, end with a Kenny. It all comes full circle.
Just like Kenny Stills’ career, which could end in New Orleans. Let’s see how that might pan out.
During New Orleans’ 2015 rebuilding efforts, the Saints traded Stills, their fifth-round draft steal, to the Dolphins. It may have had less to do with his performance on the field than off the field: just 22 years old at the time, Stills had established a reputation (as rumor had it) as an indulgent party-goer who frequented the French Quarter too much and showed up hungover to practices.
In Stills’ two seasons with New Orleans, he caught a total of 95 receptions for more than 1,500 yards and eight touchdowns, averaging 16.5 yards per catch. Great, but not great enough. Stills never evolved into the superstar receiver he could have been while playing with a dominant Brees.
His unrealized potential coupled with some immature life choices (Can you really blame him?) sent him away to – out of all places – Miami. Man, what a punishment.
Since his initial trade, Stills spent four years on the Dolphins before joining the Texans in 2019. Somewhere along the way, Stills changed.
No longer the league’s wild child, he developed to be Miami’s primary deep threat paired with then-QB Ryan Tannehill. Though Stills had more receptions (63) for more yards (931) and more yards per game (62.1) in his New Orleans sophomore season than in any of his Dolphins seasons, he reached the endzone far more times (24) in Miami. New Orleans’ kid was growing up.
At Houston, Stills hoped to fill the No. 3 slot behind DeAndre Hopkins and Will Fuller, but he just never saw that many snaps (and that receiver competition was tough). In ten games last season, Stills averaged a career-low 13.1 yards per reception.
It might be time for Stills to come home.
The Saints’ offense needs his vertical element to stretch the field, and Stills has already proven in Miami he can make plays from the slot position as well. He learned Payton’s system quickly before, recording career-high numbers in his rookie season, and he can do it again.
With Michael Thomas just back from injury, Tre’Quan Smith possibly on the chopping block, and uninitiated league babies in Marquez Callaway and Juwan Johnson, Stills may have one of the best opportunities of his career at his former (and first) team.
Shed the pride. Take the leap of faith. New Orleans will catch you and welcome you back with open arms.