It cost the Dolphins far more to get Kenny Stills than it cost the Vikings to get Mike Wallace.
So it stands to reason that Miami’s expectations for its newest receiver are at a similar level to the one it had for its exiled one.
Yet Stills, whose world flipped on its axis with Friday’s unexpected trade, wouldn’t take the bait when asked whether he is here to replace Wallace.
“I don’t think I was brought in to replace anybody,” said Stills, who is just 22 years old. “I’m just here to do whatever I can to help the team win. Mike’s a great player. I’ve looked up to the things he’s done. I’m just here to help the team win any way that I can.”
Never miss a local story.
Stills was working out Friday when he got the news: The Dolphins had traded for him, shipping linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and a third-round pick to New Orleans.
Like most everyone else, it caught Stills by surprise.
“It’s definitely a whirlwind,” he said.
But for general manager Dennis Hickey and the Dolphins’ personnel department, Friday’s trade wasn’t out of the blue. Far from it.
Hickey said Stills, a fifth-round pick out of Oklahoma in 2013, was on the team’s radar for some time.
“We did a lot of research, watched him as a player,” Hickey said. “The opportunity to add a talented, young, athletic, fast, consistent receiver to our roster was something we looked into. We were very excited we were able to trade with the Saints and add that caliber of player, caliber of person, who’s going to be a positive teammate on and off the field.”
Teams usually don’t let young, cheap and productive players go — regardless of what is offered in a trade. But questions about his maturity dogged Stills throughout his time in New Orleans.
Quarterback Drew Brees was particularly unhappy with Stills’ behavior, and that’s one of the reasons the receiver is now in Miami.
But Stills had nothing but kind words for his now-former quarterback Friday.
“I learned a lot from Drew,” he said. “He’s a great professional, a great person. Paying attention to little details every day. Coming to work with the right attitude and mind-set.”
The Dolphins were confident enough in Stills’ personal growth to not only trade for him, but also to send Wallace to Minnesota hours later. Because of Wallace’s big contract, the Dolphins couldn’t get nearly as much in return; they packaged Wallace and a seventh-round pick, and got only a fifth-rounder in return.
Wallace’s arrival tipped another domino: The Vikings cut veteran receiver Greg Jennings on Saturday, just before Wallace had his own introductory conference call.
“I got traded [Friday],” Wallace told Minnesota reporters when asked about Jennings. “Nothing surprises me.”
Wallace took the high road when discussing his time in Miami. He shed no new light on the details behind his much-discussed exchange with coach Joe Philbin in the Dolphins’ 2014 finale. Wallace, who didn’t return to the game after the incident, again said he would “never, ever quit” on his team.
As for his run in Miami, Wallace said: “I wish things could have ended better. It’s life.”
▪ The Dolphins remain hopeful things end up well with Charles Clay. The free agent tight end still had not signed with a team — Buffalo or Miami