The former Bills, Rams and Chiefs wideout will sign a one-year deal worth $6MM, with Adam Schefter of ESPN.com noting (via Twitter) the deal will include $5MM fully guaranteed. This will signal a major shift for Watkins, earnings- and scheme-wise.
Baltimore has been hunting high-profile wideouts for a bit now. The Ravens offered more money to JuJu Smith-Schuster and T.Y. Hilton, only to see those players opt to re-sign with the Steelers and Colts, respectively. Kenny Golladay also landed on the Ravens’ radar, but the ex-Lions target received a big-ticket offer from the Giants and committed to New York. The Ravens hosted Watkins on a visit, and the talented but injury-prone pass catcher will head to Baltimore to join an offense in need of aerial help.
Watkins will pair with Marquise Brown on the NFL’s run-heaviest offense. It will certainly represent a change for the former No. 4 overall pick, who operated as the No. 2 receiver on one of the most explosive passing attacks in NFL history. The Chiefs were interested in keeping Watkins, but it did not sound like re-signing him was a must for the two-time reigning AFC champions. Watkins signed a monster accord with the Chiefs in 2018 — a three-year, $48MM deal that affected the NFL’s wideout market — and delivered in spurts, even though he did not end up living up to that lofty contract.
The Chiefs received some crucial Watkins contributions in the playoffs, with the former Clemson star surpassing 75 receiving yards in four of the six postseason games he played with Kansas City. However, Watkins also missed time due to injury in each of his three seasons in Missouri, sitting out 14 regular-season games as a Chief. He missed two playoff games this past season as well and has not topped 700 receiving yards in a season since 2015, when he compiled a career-high 1,047 — in a Bills run-heavy offense featuring Tyrod Taylor.
Still, Watkins is only heading into his age-28 season and will provide a high-end talent for a Ravens offense that has been limited at receiver since Lamar Jackson took the reins in 2018. It should not be ruled out Baltimore will further address the position in the draft, but after the team struck out on acquiring veteran starters, Watkins will lessen the burden on the front office to land a proven receiver.
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