Sammy Watkins

This Date In Transactions History: Bills Trade Sammy Watkins, Ronald Darby

A few transactions keyed the Bills’ rise from perennial regular-season-only team to one that has been on the Super Bowl contender tier in the 2020s, but August 11, 2017 represents a fairly important date on the franchise’s timeline.

On this day five years ago, the Bills swung two trades. Those deals, one in particular, helped the franchise transform its position in the NFL hierarchy. Shortly before noon CT that day, the Rams acquired Sammy Watkins and a 2018 sixth-round pick in exchange for a 2018 second-round pick and cornerback E.J. Gaines. Minutes later, word emerged that the Eagles had obtained Ronald Darby for a third-round pick and wide receiver Jordan Matthews.

Both Watkins and Darby were Bills starters brought in during Doug Whaley‘s run as general manager, the former as a 2014 first-round pick and the latter via the 2015 second round. The Bills traded up to No. 4 for Watkins in 2014, but the injury concerns that have largely defined the talented pass catcher’s career showed up early. The team got out early on Darby, who had two years remaining on his rookie contract at the time of the trade.

Both have since bounced around the league, though each has made key contributions post-Buffalo. Watkins elevated his value on Sean McVay‘s first Rams team, playing a career-high 15 games in 2017. This led to his signing a then-startling $16MM-per-year Chiefs deal in 2018 and helping Kansas City to back-to-back Super Bowls. Darby started for the Eagles’ Super Bowl LII-winning team in his first Philadelphia season. He has since signed deals with Washington and Denver. The Bills, however, used the trades to position themselves for a quick ascent under Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane.

Armed with the two additional Day 2 picks, Beane maneuvered to land the team’s next franchise centerpiece in his first draft as GM. In a rare two-pronged move up the first-round board, the Bills began their April 2018 odyssey by acquiring the No. 12 overall pick. To do so, they packaged veteran left tackle Cordy Glenn in a pre-draft deal with the Bengals. That move featured Glenn, Buffalo’s No. 21 pick and a 2018 fifth-round choice going to Cincinnati for No. 12 and a 2018 sixth. On draft night, Beane flipped the No. 12 selection to the Buccaneers for No. 7. To move into the top 10, the Bills included the pick they obtained for Watkins (No. 56). They traded Nos. 12, 53 and 56 to Tampa Bay for the slot that became Josh Allen, the third quarterback selected in 2018’s five-QB first round.

With the pick from the Darby deal, the Bills chose defensive tackle Harrison Phillips, who became a four-year contributor and part-time starter. Phillips left in free agency this year to sign with the Vikings. Although Matthews and Gaines did not contribute much in Buffalo, the Allen acquisition obviously changed the franchise’s course.

Despite hurting their 2017 roster by dealing away Darby and Watkins, the Bills made a surprise playoff bid that season. While 2018 featured a considerable step back, the team has qualified for the past three AFC brackets. Allen has since become one of the NFL’s top players, leading the team to the 2020 AFC championship game and into the 2021 divisional round. He is locked in through 2028 via a six-year, $258MM extension. This year’s Aaron Rodgers, Deshaun Watson and Kyler Murray deals have bumped Allen’s contract down to fifth among quarterbacks.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/29/22

Here are Friday’s minor moves:

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Rams

New England Patriots

New York Jets

San Francisco 49ers

  • Signed: DL Tomasi Laulile

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Tennessee Titans

Signed as a UDFA shortly after the draft, Mevis fared rather poorly in a Thursday workout. The rookie kicker missed badly on three warmup kicks, one of which drilling ex-Cowboys HC Dave Campo (of Hard Knocks 2002 fame), per ESPN.com’s Michael DiRocco. Mevis had struggled during the start of Jaguars camp. This is Fry’s seventh NFL team since he entered the league in 2019. The workout-circuit regular has played in three regular-season games — one-offs with the Falcons, Bengals and Chiefs. The Jags also have kicker Ryan Santoso on their roster.

A hamstring injury, sustained during a workout shortly after a flight to Green Bay, sidelined Watkins for the start of Packers camp. The veteran will try to shake a well-earned injury-prone label in Green Bay, though the former top-five pick’s roster spot may not be 100% secure. Andrews, who returned in 2020 after missing all of the 2019 season due to blood clots, underwent offseason shoulder surgery. He is back for a seventh season as the Patriots’ starting center.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/26/22

Today’s minor NFL transactions, including a handful of notable names landing on the physically unable to perform list and the non-football injury list as teams open up camp:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Miami Dolphins

  • Released with NFI designation: WR Cody Core

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

San Francisco 49ers

Seattle Seahawks

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Commanders

WR Notes: Hilton, Watkins, Lamb, Tolbert

The Colts have made a number of noteworthy additions on both sides of the ball this offseason, once again leading to optimism that they will field one of the AFC’s most talented and balanced rosters. However, the wide receiver position remains one surrounded by question marks, as it has for several seasons.

Outside of Michael Pittman Jr., Indianapolis lacks proven pass-catchers. The addition of second-rounder Alec Pierce in particular represents cause for optimism that the unit will have more upside with Matt Ryan at the helm, but a veteran addition could still be in the cards. Especially if the likes of Parris Campbell and Ashton Dulin are unable to stay on the field and produce as effective complimentary wideouts at a minimum, an experienced option could be required.

If the team were to make a move, they would “likely” turn to T.Y. Hilton, as noted by Zak Keefer of The Athletic (subscription required). The 32-year-old has always been the most logical candidate to sign with the Colts, given his long history with the franchise. The door has remained open to a second straight one-year reunion between the two sides, but other receiver-needy teams could also consider him in the weeks leading up to the regular season.

Here are a couple of other WR notes from around the league:

  • Much has been made this offseason about how the Packers have re-worked their receiver room. The addition of three rookies during the draft (Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure) could create a bit of a logjam at the position for veterans lower down the depth chart. That could leave Sammy Watkins on the roster bubble, as noted by ESPN’s Rob Demovsky. The 29-year-old signed a one-year deal with Green Bay looking to fill the void left by Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, but, especially if the team opts to sign another wideout, he could find himself back on the open market shortly before the season begins.
  • Another team which traded away a notable wideout this spring was the Cowboys. The absence of Amari Cooper will vault CeeDee Lamb to the role of undisputed No. 1, which could affect his special teams responsibilities. Per Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News, Lamb (who has led the team in punt returns in each of his first two seasons in the NFL) could cede those duties to another wideout. Cedrick Wilson handled the second-most punts last year, but his free agent departure leaves the top spot open to competition. So far, third round rookie Jalen Tolbert has seen the most action as a return man in practice, and could be the favorite to win the job full-time. Head coach Mike McCarthy said “he seems pretty natural back there,” so it will be worth watching come training camp to see if he can permanently win the spot.

Contract Details: Gilmore, Cooks, Nelson, Smith, Bynes, Watkins

Here are some details on deals recently signed around the NFL:

  • Stephon Gilmore, CB (Colts): Two-year, $20MM. The deal includes $10.51MM guaranteed at signing and $14MM in overall guarantees. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Gilmore’s Year 1 payout will total $10.02MM.
  • Brandin Cooks, WR (Texans): Two-year, $39.76MM. The deal includes $36MM guaranteed at signing consisting of the $16MM signing bonus (applied over three years) and the first two years of base salary ($2MM in 2022 and $18MM in 2023), according to Aaron Wilson of Pro Football Network. Cooks will have a per game active bonus of $29,411 for a potential season total of $500,000 and will receive a roster bonus in 2024 of $3MM.
  • Steven Nelson, CB (Texans): Two-year, $9MM. The deal is worth up to $10MM, according to Wilson. It includes $4.5MM guaranteed at signing consisting of a $2MM signing bonus, the 2022 base salary of $1.75MM, and $750,000 of the 2023 base salary. Nelson will have a 2022 per game active bonus of $44,117 for a potential season total of $750,000 and a 2023 per game active bonus of $58,832 for a potential season total of $1MM. The deal includes an unspecified incentive worth $250,000 for the 2022 season.
  • Geno Smith, QB (Seahawks): One-year, $3.5MM. The deal is worth up to $7MM, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, with up to $3.5MM worth of incentives likely triggerable if he wins the starting job. The deal includes a guaranteed amount of $500,000.
  • Josh Bynes, LB (Ravens): One-year, $1.27MM. According to Jamison Hensley of ESPN, the deal includes $600,000 of guaranteed money consisting of the signing bonus worth $152,500 and $447,500 of the base salary (worth $1.12MM total).
  • Sammy Watkins, WR (Packers): One-year, $1.85MM. The deal includes a signing bonus of $350,000 and is worth up to $4MM, according to USA Today’s Ryan Wood, with incentives for playtime, catches, yards, and touchdowns. Watkins can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he plays a snap count percentage of 55%, 60%, or 65%, respectively. He can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he records a receptions total of 50, 60, or 70 catches, respectively. He can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $525,000 if he has yardage totals of 550, 650, or 700, respectively. Lastly, Watkins can earn an extra $150,000, $350,000, or $575,000 if he catches 7, 8, or 9 touchdowns, respectively.

Packers To Sign WR Sammy Watkins

1:14PM: Not surprisingly, the two sides have indeed been able to reach an agreement on a deal. Watkins is signing a one-year contract worth up to $4MM (Twitter link via ESPN’s Adam Schefter).

1:07PM: One of the teams most in need of wide receiver additions is meeting with one of the top remaining free agents at the position. Mike Garafolo of NFL Network reports (on Twitter) that Sammy Watkins is visiting the Packers today. 

Green Bay has been able to retain most of the key players on their NFC-leading team from 2021. Two of the most notable departures, though, are of course Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-ScantlingThat has left the team in search of multiple replacements for their pass-catching corps; given the current state of the free agent market, many expected the draft to become the Packers’ main area of focus.

Watkins is on a small list of notable veterans still available, though. He, along with Julio Jones, Jarvis Landry and Will Fuller could all be on the move around, or just after, the draft. The Packers would represent Watkins’ fifth career team, as he spent the 2021 campaign with the Ravens after three years in Kansas City. That, in turn, was preceded by a single season with the Rams and three with the Bills. Since his lone 1,000 yard campaign in Buffalo, he has established himself as a consistent secondary option in the passing game.

Green Bay would still have some familiar faces for the former fourth-overall pick. Head coach Matt Lafleur was the Rams’ offensive coordinator during his lone season there in 2017. Likewise, WRs coach Jason Vrable worked with Watkins as an offensive staffer when he was in Buffalo. If he were to sign, the 28-year-old would add experienced depth to the WR room, while leaving the door open to at least one other noteworthy addition, either in free agency or the draft.

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/25-12/26/21

We’ve compiled a list of players who were placed on or activated from the reserve/COVID-19 list on Christmas and today. In some instances, players activated from the list remain on IR:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Carolina Panthers

Cincinnati Bengals

Cleveland Browns

Green Bay Packers

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Jacksonville Jaguars

Kansas City Chiefs

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

New England Patriots

New Orleans Saints

New York Giants

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Placed on practice squad/COVID-19 list: WR Steven Sims

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates: 12/20/21

A long list of players were placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. We listed the players who landed on the list today, as well as those who were activated off the list:

Atlanta Falcons

Baltimore Ravens

Buffalo Bills

Chicago Bears

Cleveland Browns

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Kansas City Chiefs

Los Angeles Chargers

Los Angeles Rams

Las Vegas Raiders

Miami Dolphins

New England Patriots

New York Giants

New York Jets

  • Placed on reserve/COVID-19 list: DE John Franklin-Myers, DB Sharrod Neasman

Philadelphia Eagles

Seattle Seahawks

Tennessee Titans

Washington Football Team

NFL COVID List Updates

We are trying our best here at Pro Football Rumors to keep up with all of the updates throughout the league concerning players on the reserve/COVID-19 list. A lot of teams had high hopes during today’s testing as they were trying to get players activated in time for Sunday’s slate of games.

Here are updates as of 8:30 PM ET, Sat 12/18:

Baltimore Ravens

Carolina Panthers

Chicago Bears

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DT Eddie Goldman
  • OC Bill Lazor, DC Sean Desai, STC Chris Tabor in COVID-19 protocols

Cleveland Browns

Dallas Cowboys

Denver Broncos

  • Activated from reserve/COVID-19 list: DB P.J. Locke

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Indianapolis Colts

Los Angeles Rams

Miami Dolphins

Minnesota Vikings

  • Four Coaches in COVID-19 protocols

New York Giants

New York Jets

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Washington Football Team

Ravens Activate Bateman, Phillips From IR

Ravens wide receiver Rashod Bateman will make his NFL debut this weekend in a heavily anticipated matchup between two exciting young QBs in Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson and the Chargers’ Justin Herbert. Head coach John Harbaugh apprised reporters of the news today (Twitter link via Jeff Zrebiec of The Athletic).

Baltimore activated both Bateman and guard Tyre Phillips from IR Saturday. Phillips has been out since Week 1 due to a knee injury that required cart transportation. He began the season as the Ravens’ starting left guard. This move comes shortly after the Ravens placed rookie fill-in Ben Cleveland, who has split time at left guard with Ben Powers, on IR. Baltimore promoted Le’Veon Bell and tackle Andre Smith from its practice squad as well.

The Ravens have managed a 4-1 record despite a rash of injured stars and key contributors, including their top two RBs — J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards — CB Marcus Peters, LT Ronnie Stanley, and many others besides. Bateman, the 27th-overall pick of this year’s draft, joined the club’s MASH unit after suffering a significant groin pull in training camp that ultimately required surgery. Baltimore put its rookie wideout on IR and designated him for return at the end of September.

The Ravens’ ground game, which was the club’s calling card over the past several years, has been subdued in 2021 thanks in large part to the aforementioned injuries to Dobbins and Edwards (and thanks to opposing defenses gearing up to stop the run). But Jackson has elevated his passing abilities and his receivers have played well, allowing Baltimore to sustain a productive aerial attack, which Bateman should further bolster.

Unfortunately (but not unsurprisingly), Bateman’s debut coincides with the loss of fellow wideout Sammy Watkins. Watkins signed a one-year contract with the Ravens this spring, and he had developed a strong rapport with Jackson, catching 18 passes for 292 yards (good for a 16.2 YPR mark, which would be the second-highest figure of his career). Watkins suffered a hamstring injury in Monday’s dramatic win over the Colts, and he has been ruled out for the Chargers game this week (Twitter link via Jamison Hensley of ESPN.com). There is no definitive timetable for Watkins at this point, but it does not sound like the team will put him on IR just yet.

Meanwhile, Baltimore continues to be without TE Nick Boyle. Boyle is an effective ancillary receiving target in his own right, but his primary contribution has been as a blocker. He is regarded as one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, and his return could help the running game get back on track. As with Watkins, there is no definitive return date for Boyle, but Harbaugh said the Delaware product will come off of IR soon (Twitter link via Hensley).

Boyle has been recovering from a severe knee injury he suffered last November, which ended his 2020 season prematurely.