Kenny Stills will have a chance to land with a contender, following the explosive wide receiver’s release from the Houston Texans on Friday.
Stills, who was inactive on Thursday against the Detroit Lions, and the Texans mutually agreed to part ways after Week 12. The 6-foot-1 receiver instantly becomes the top talent available on the NFL’s free-agent market.
Kenny Stills released by Houston Texans
As first reported by ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, Stills and the Texans both agreed that a release was in everyone’s best interest. After being unable to move him at the NFL trade deadline, Houston will release this down-field threat.
Acquired in the blockbuster trade for Laremy Tunsil, Stills established himself as a nice weapon for Deshaun Watson in 2019. In 13 games, the former fifth-round pick had 561 receiving yards and four touchdowns, while averaging 14 yards per catch.
After trading away DeAndre Hopkins, Houston’s aerial attack shifted its approach. With Will Fuller drawing more targets and the team using more screens, Stills had just 11 receptions for 144 yards in 10 games.
He will go through waivers, when teams can claim him at the prorated portion of his $6.975 million salary. In the final year of his contract, any team that signs Stills would only have him for the remainder of the 2020 NFL season.
If Stills clears waivers, he would be free to sign with a team of his choosing. If that happens, plenty of playoff-caliber teams will be pushing hard to convince him to sign.
Potential landing spots for Kenny Stills
Before Stills even has a shot at playing for a contender, teams at the bottom of the NFL standings will have a shot at him. In the event clubs like the Jacksonville Jaguars, New York Jets and Denver Broncos pass on him, we see plenty of great landing spots for Kenny Stills.
Baltimore is home to one of the worst receiving corps in the NFL. Marquise Brown, the No. 25 pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, is becoming a major disappointment. Entering Week 12, he is second on the team with 431 receiving yards and ranks third in touchdowns (three). Even including Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews, Baltimore doesn’t have a pass-catcher over 500 receiving yards.
The Ravens are also in need of talent due to their COVID-19 outbreak. Stills, who is averaging 15.6 yards per catch in his career, would add an excellent vertical threat for this passing attack. While his main skill isn’t something Baltimore lacks, he might be an upgrade over the team’s existing options.
Green Bay Packers
Green Bay made a big push for Will Fuller before the NFL trade deadline but couldn’t close the deal. While Allen Lazard is healthy and Marques Valdes-Scantling is making some big plays, Aaron Rodgers would be happy to have more weapons.
According to Pro Football Focus, Rodgers boasts a 122.5 quarterback rating on deep throws this season. Among quarterbacks with at least 30 deep throws, he has the second-highest quarterback rating and the fourth-most touchdowns (eight). Kenny Stills would be the perfect addition for Green Bay’s offense, but the waivers might prevent them from landing him.
Since losing Odell Beckham Jr. to a torn ACL, Cleveland’s passing attack has lacked a big-play threat. While the front office made some calls before the trade deadline, reportedly having some interest in Stills, no deals came to fruition.
Baker Mayfield has also struggled without OBJ and adding Stills’ speed could help him rediscover some of his form. However, it’s worth noting that he ranks 17th among qualified signal-callers in quarterback rating on deep throws (86.8). While the fit might not be perfect, Cleveland could be a landing spot for Kenny Stills.
The receiving duo of Stefon Diggs and John Brown might be the most underrated in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Bills, Brown has played in just eight games this season. Josh Allen depends on this vertical threat being out there and Buffalo has to recognize he is a better quarterback with Brown on the field.
While Kenny Stills isn’t on Brown’s level, they both love to stretch the field for big plays. Claiming Stills would allow Buffalo to slowly bring Brown back, ensuring he is healthy for the NFL Playoffs. A receiving trio of Diggs, Brown, and Stills would cause plenty of problems for NFL defenses, especially since Allen loves to throw it deep.
Kenny Stills could reunite with his former teammate Ryan Tannehill, especially since the two have a solid relationship. While Tennessee’s offense relies on the ground-and-pound attack with Derrick Henry, Tannehill is an excellent quarterback. A look at the team’s depth chart also shows how Stills could fill a key role.
A.J. Brown can be dominant, but he is also drawing more matchups against No. 1 cornerbacks this season and could use some help. While Tannehill ranks 19th in deep attempts, his 101.0 quarterback rating showcases that it is a strength. He’ll already have some chemistry with Stills, which would allow the quarterback-receiver duo to connect for some big plays early.