Miami Dolphins wide receiver Kenny Stills caught 42 passes for 726 yards with nine touchdowns in 2016, setting him up to become an in demand free agent this offseason. Instead, one day before the opening of free agency, Stills returned to the Dolphins.
After officially re-signing with the Dolphins on Wednesday, Stills spoke with the Miami media, discussing his decision to come back to the team for which he played the last two seasons. “Obviously it makes me very happy and excited for this deal to get done,” Stills explained. “This is what we wanted from the very beginning and like I said, it’s something we wanted from the start – the fact that I wanted to be back here with this team and we were building something special, and so that’s exactly why I’m back.”
The NFL calendar is currently in the three-day “legal tampering” period, when teams can discuss the parameters of a contract with a player about to hit the free agent market. Stills discussed if he thought there was other money, and potentially more money, available to him if he had waited for free agency. “You know there’s always opportunities out there – other opportunities – but I was focused on what we’re doing here in Miami and what we’re building here and honestly, that’s really all I cared about,” Still stated.
“You can’t believe everything that you read, but a majority of what was out there was pretty true,” he continued. “We had three major players in this. Like I said, I felt like Miami was the best place for me.”
He then, when asked if staying in Miami was something he would theoretically have taken less money compared to other teams’ offers to accomplish, added, “Yes, definitely. And that’s something I talk to with the younger guys all the time. It helped that I had two different experiences with two different teams and different head coaches, and I was able to make the best decision that I thought was for me and my family and also something that I knew that I was going to be able to live with in the long run.”
Stills repeatedly mentioned the Dolphins are building something special during his media availability, leading to a question about what makes him believe that. He replied, “I have that feeling from the top down – from what (Owner) Mr. (Stephen) Ross has invested in this team and all the way to the players and the people in this building. Everybody is working towards one common goal. When you have an organization being ran that way, you have something special, and that’s what I’m talking about.”
Finally, Stills spoke about the relationship he has with coach Adam Gase. During the NFL Scouting Combine, Gase had said there were some days where he felt great about Stills re-signing with the team and some days where he felt like crap about the chances, adding that he hates free agency for reasons like possibly losing a relationship like he has with Stills. The receiver said on Wednesday, “It’s tough. I would echo what he said about the free agency process. It’s tough, and we – day-by-day – had these different ups and downs and feeling like if it was going to get done or not. Our relationship is unique, because of him, and he allows that with this team and with the guys on this team. I feel like that’s a part of this building being special. He really, genuinely cares about us and is looking out for us and wants what’s in our best interest. So, it makes it easy to play for a guy like that.”
Stills signed a four-year, $32 million contract with the team, including $20 million guaranteed. He will remain with the club that traded for him in 2015, bringing the former fifth-round pick to South Florida from the New Orleans Saints. He will continue in his role as the deep threat in a receiving corps that includes Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker as well.