After a one-year tryout contract, Kansas City has decided to extend wide receiver Justin Watson‘s tenure with the Chiefs, according to the Twitter account of Watson’s agency, JL Sports. The Chiefs signed him to a new two-year contract worth $3.5MM, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The deal includes a guaranteed amount of $1.4MM and a potential $2.5MM in escalators and incentives that could bring the overall value of the contract up to $6MM.
In an offense that lost star wide receiver Tyreek Hill and saw both Mecole Hardman and Kadarius Toney miss much of the season with injuries, Watson provided some reliable depth. The Chiefs saw three new free agent additions lead their wide receiving corps last season as JuJu Smith-Schuster, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Watson were first, second, and third at the position in receiving yards.
Although Watson ranked only fifth on the team in receiving, 2022 was a career year for him. He matched career-highs in catches (15) and touchdowns (2) but expanded his route tree a bit down the field as he nearly doubled his previous high in receiving yards with 315, despite having the same number of receptions as his previous high. Last year was also extremely productive for Watson in terms of proving that he could stay on the field after only appearing in one game for the Buccaneers in 2021. In his first season with the Chiefs, Watson played in every game (except the AFC Championship game), starting five contests.
Kansas City lost Smith-Schuster and Hardman to free agency this offseason but return Valdes-Scantling, Toney, and second-year wideout Skyy Moore. The Chiefs also brought in former 49ers and Giants wide receiver Richie James and return a number of receivers who were on the roster but didn’t record any offensive statistics last season.
The losses of Smith-Schuster and Hardman open a door for Watson to increase his role on the Chiefs offense, but he’ll have to beat out James and several other backups for those targets. Regardless, Watson provides the Chiefs with consistent depth at the wide receiver position as well as a player who can contribute on offense and special teams.