Free agent WR Kenny Stills on returning to Dolphins: We’ll ‘do whatever we can to make that happen’

 

Dolphins' Kenny Stills catches a third quarter pass as Pittsburgh Steelers' Artie Burns defends during the Steelers Wild Card Playoffs victory on Sunday. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

Dolphins’ Kenny Stills catches a third quarter pass as Steelers’ Artie Burns defends during Pittsburgh’s Wild Card playoff victory on Sunday. (Charles Trainor Jr./Miami Herald/TNS)

DAVIE – Kenny Stills started every game this season and led the Dolphins with nine touchdowns. He had the third-most catches (42) and receiving yards (726) behind Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker.

And now, with the Dolphins and their 24-year-old receiver entering their first negotiations together as Stills becomes an unrestricted free agent, Stills is saying all the right things.

“I don’t know how to say how much I want to want back here, I want to be back here, yeah,” Stills said. “I mean, I love this team. I love these guys. We did something really special after starting 1-4 we did something very special. We are going to do whatever we can to try to make that happen.”

Stills was acquired from New Orleans two years ago and has caught 69 passes for 1,166 yards and 12 touchdowns since. But 2016 clearly was the better of the two seasons, which was good timing for a player in a contract year.

Now the questions is how much money the Dolphins’ fastest receiver is going to command on the open market and will Miami be willing to pay that?

Stills made $1.671 million in 2016, the final year of a four-year, $2,354,452 contract he signed with the Saints.

Stills, who had five catches for 82 yards in Sunday’s loss at Pittsburgh that eliminated the Dolphins from the playoffs, likes the team’s direction. He said on Monday the Dolphins have a lot to learn about what it takes to succeed in the playoffs. Stills played in two playoff games with New Orleans in 2013.

“A lot of people say we’re young and we need to mature,” Stills said. “It’s knowing when you get in the playoffs you can’t start slow, you can’t turn the ball over, you can’t have penalties.

“The way we played (Sunday) wasn’t good enough. Sometimes things like this have to happen for you to learn that lesson that needs to be learned. I definitely think the guys understand the way this feels and they don’t want it to happen again.”

Defensive end Andre Branch, also an unrestricted free agent, was more definitive in his desire to return. Branch signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Dolphins last year and finished second in sacks with 5.5. Cameron Wake led the team with 11.5 sacks.

“I love this place,” said Branch, who spent his first four seasons in Jacksonville. “They believed in me when not too many people did. I appreciate them for that. We’ll see how it goes. I don’t know what the future holds but I had an amazing time this year.”

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