The oft-injured Watkins has certainly shown himself to be a valuable asset to the organization…when he’s healthy. Unfortunately, this caveat has proceeded his name throughout much of his seven year NFL career.
Watkins missed six games in 2020 as well as the Chiefs’ first two post-season games against the Browns and Bills before showing up to the Super Bowl for one measly catch. There is something about this situation that felt a lot like the kid that never comes to school but shows up on the last day to eat all the food and sign yearbooks with his friends.
”You never know,” Watkins stated back in January. “I have a lot of dreams and a lot of things I want to do. But hopefully I am here for the next…” he paused, considering “…until coach Reid retires. When he goes, I’m going to go. So, if I’m here a long time, I would definitely want to be here. And if I’m not, I’m going to take my dreams somewhere else and make the best of it.”
Interestingly, Chiefs GM Brett veach seems up to the task of restructuring Watkins’ contract, which paid out over 15 million dollars in 2020.
“Sammy is a big part of this offense and when he’s healthy, we’re better,” Veach said. “If there’s a way we can make it work again, we’ll certainly try to do that.”
There’s that “if” again. Now, if Sammy is comfortable signing for pennies on the dollar compared to what his old contract was worth then perhaps there is room to negotiate here. Another stipulation: Watkins would need to be signed as a 3rd or fourth receiver due to his undependability.
Watkins is not KC’s only pass-catching conundrum
While Sammy has been unreliable at times, he was very key during the team’s 2018 and 2019 playoff runs. Watkins amassed 300 receiving yards in three playoff games a year ago and made a crucial catch in Super Bowl LIV which helped the Chiefs take the lead late.
The truth is, the Chiefs have issues at the receive position aside from Sammy Watkins. Former second round pick Mecole Hardman’s failure to develop as an every-down receiving option for Patrick Mahomes has been crippling. Another issue is that both utility receivers, Demarcus Robinson and Byron Pringle are also free agents. Neither have shown the necessary skillsets to demand new contracts in this offense.
Receiving options moving forward
The Chiefs are going to have to continue to bring in weapons for Patrick Mahomes, there’s no doubt about that. Saying goodbye to Sammy Watkins would free up much needed salary cap space to chase a more reliable receiver (or two) in free agency.
|Free Agent Receivers||Former Team|
|A.J. Green (age 33)||Bengals|
|Marvin Jones (age 31)||Lions|
|Corey Davis (age 26)||Titans|
|Allen Robinson (age 28)||Bears|
|Breshad Perriman (age 28)||Jets|
While signing Watkins may be tempting due to his relatively young age (27), the Chiefs need to move on. The team is still very much in a championship window and there will be plenty of guys willing to play for less to chase a ring. The draft will be another opportunity to right the wrong of Mecole Hardman, even if it is in later rounds.