After years of clamoring for his return, the Saints were finally able to bring Kenny Stills back to New Orleans by signing him to the practice squad on September 15th. Stills was elevated to the active roster on September 25 and made his 2021 debut a day later against New England.
Originally drafted in the 5th round of the 2013 draft out of the University of Oklahoma, Kenny Stills immediately provided a much needed deep threat to Drew Brees and the Saints offense during his rookie and sophomore years. Stills was the third leading receiver in 2013 with 641 yards, and led the NFL with a 20 yard average gain per reception. His second year, he managed to lead the team in receiving, putting up a still career-high 931 yards.
Following the 2014 season however, Stills was dealt to the Miami Dolphins in exchange for linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a 3rd round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Ellerbe only played 15 games in two seasons for the Saints and did not register a single sack or interception, but the draft pick was used to select defensive back P.J. Williams, who is still a contributor on the Saints defense as of 2021.
In recent years, the Saints had long been in search of a #2 receiving threat to compliment Michael Thomas, and one of the players whos name was floated around each year as a potential option was Kenny Stills. Stills continued his production after being traded, recording over 550 receiving yards each year from 2016-2019, while his speed and big play ability made him a player of desire for Saints fans who recognized the receiving corps lack of speed on the outside.
Unfortunately, when the move finally came to fruition, Stills did not live up to the expectations many had for his return to New Orleans. The pass game as a whole struggled in 2021, with constant turnover at quarterback limiting the production of the Saints receivers. Regardless, only managing to grab 6 of 23 targets for 68 yards and a touchdown in 13 games played leaves much more to be desired. This season’s statline for Stills used to be a good game for him rather than a full season, and hopefully a full offseason with the team and stability at quarterback can help Stills return to his form in his first stint with the Saints.
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