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Crazy price tag for WR Kenny Stills shows how Patriots WR Julian Edelman is such a bargain

The Patriots receiver is the biggest bargain at wide receiver.

Miami Dolphins WR Kenny Stills is coming off a 42 catch, 726 yard, 9 touchdown season, where he chipped in 5 more catches for 82 yards during Wild Card weekend of the playoffs. That’s a good year for a season-long #3 receiver, a mediocre year for a #2 target, and an awful year for a #1 receiver.

Stills is set to be a free agent in March and his value hinges upon the perception of his talent. Is he a #1, a #2, or a #3 receiver? In Miami, Stills ranked second in snaps behind WR Jarvis Landry and third in receiving yards, behind Landry and WR Devante Parker.

How much would you pay for a player like Stills on the open market? Perhaps $4 million per year like Patriots WR Chris Hogan, or maybe $6.5 million per year like Falcons WR Mohamed Sanu?

How about $12 million per season, according to the Miami Herald?

If you want to put two-and-two together, the Philadelphia Eagles really want to sign Stills and sources tell the Miami Herald “the market is said to already be in the $12-million-a-year range” for the speedster.

That’s bonkers.

Patriots wide receivers Julian Edelman ($4.25 million per year), Danny Amendola ($4.05 million per year), and Hogan ($4.00 million per year) combine for an annual average of $12.3 million and that’s before Amendola’s expected pay cut.

The price of $12 million per season would rank 7th in the entire NFL, behind Steelers WR Antonio Brown and his new $17 million per year deal, Bengals WR A.J. Green, Falcons WR Julio Jones, Cowboys WR Dez Bryant, Broncos WR Demaryius Thomas, and Colts WR T.Y. Hilton.

Is this mystery team really that desperate to give $12 million to Kenny Stills? Why not offer that deal to Terrelle Pryor, or DeSean Jackson, or Kenny Britt, all of whom are coming off 1,000 yard seasons?

Heck, why not take that $12 million and sign Robert Woods, Brandon LaFell, and Jeremy Kerley? Even if Woods signs a solid #2 receiver deal (roughly $8 million) in free agency, LaFell and Kerley played for a combined $3.35 million and recorded a total of 128 receptions for 1,529 yards and 9 touchdowns. Any team that hands Stills a $12 million contract is making a terrible financial decision.

And on the topic, can we discuss how much of a bargain Julian Edelman has been for the Patriots? Edelman turns 31 years old in May and will be a free agent after this season, but he showed no signs of slowing down in 2016. In fact, Edelman averaged a ridiculous 102 yards from scrimmage per game after the bye week and through the Super Bowl.

Edelman actually ranks in the top 11 in yards from scrimmage per game by receivers over the length of his four-year contract (72.9 yards per game). Of those 10 players ahead of Edelman, one is retired (Calvin Johnson), five are those previously listed players making $12 million or more per year (sans Dez), three have been on rookie contracts and will see monster paydays soon (Odell Beckham Jr.; Alshon Jeffery; Mike Evans), and then there’s Packers WR Jordy Nelson on a deal worth $9.76 million per year.

If and when the Patriots come to terms with an extension for Edelman- and they probably should before the start of the 2017 season- it might just be a two-year deal, but Edelman deserves a contract worth twice or even three times as much as what he’s playing under right now.

Perhaps that mystery team with $12 million to burn can just give their checkbook to the Patriots so they can give Edelman a nice pay raise. That would still be better use than spending it all on Kenny Stills.