For all of the sketchy moves made by former head coach and general manager Bill O'Brien coming into the 2020 season, one aspect of the Houston Texans that was undeniable was that, for the first time in the O'Brien Era, they would have capable veteran depth at the wide receiver position, even in spite of the fact that they had moved on from DeAndre Hopkins by trading him to Arizona.
Will Fuller, Brandin Cooks, Randall Cobb and Kenny Stills. Those four formed as capable a top four receiving corps as the team has had in tis history. Ultimately, though, there are is only one ball and only so many targets to go around, and after trying to move him at the trade deadline, Kenny Stills wound up being the odd man out. On Friday, after Stills missed the trip to Detroit with what was reported as a quad injury, the Texans waived Stills.
For a player who was with the team for just 23 games and whose 2020 totals were a paltry 11 catches for 144 yards, Stills will go down as more than just a footnote in Texans history. First of all, he was a part of one of the biggest trades and most noteworthy trades in franchise history, coming over from the Miami Dolphins along with franchise left tackle Laremy Tunsil just days before the start of the 2019 season for a package that included two first round picks and a second round pick. It was a noteworthy move, in part, because Stills was one of the most vocal players in the NFL for social justice causes, and the Texans, up to that point, had not been viewed as necessarily a safe haven for players demonstrating during the national anthem.
Upon arrival, Sills made his presence felt almost immediately, as he caught what would have been the game winning touchdown in the 2019 season opener with 27 seconds remaining against the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately, snafus on the defensive side of the ball for the Texans allowed a game winning field goal and a 30-28 Saints win, but the message was clear that Stills would be a key piece for the Texans in their 10-6 division wining campaign.
Stills would go on to tally 40 catches for 561 yards and four touchdowns for the season, including a two touchdown performance in a key win down the stretch against the Tennessee Titans in Week 15. In the playoffs, he scored a 52-yard touchdown on the opening drive in the divisional round at Kansas City against the Chiefs. Coming into 2020, Stills remained a key player, if for no other reason than the Texans' top two receivers, Will Fuller and Brandin Cooks, have both dealt with serious injury issues the last couple years.
However, with the Texans sitting at 4-7 and likely out of the playoff hunt, it was time to open the door for some younger players to get into the mix, specifically Keke Coutee and (presumably) rookie Isaiah Coulter. Stills will enter the waiver wire, and we will find out Monday of any team picks him up. If they do, then the Texans will be off the hook for the remaining $2 million or so on Stills' deal. If not, it will be one more belated contract to throw on top of the pile that was the Bill O'Brien Era.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.