Watson got into 12 games with the Packers and Ravens during the 2022 season, finishing with a career-low 16 catches for 325 yards. Despite having just turned 30 in June, it was quiet for Watkins throughout the offseason, with the wideout attending zero reported workouts.
While he’s years removed from his 1,000-yard season with the Bills, the former first-round pick has still topped 300 receiving yards in each of his NFL seasons. He spent a full year in Baltimore in 2021, collecting 394 yards, and he topped 400 yards receiving in each of his three seasons with the Chiefs (including a 2019 campaign where had 673 receiving yards). As Joel A. Erickson of the Indianapolis Star points out, Watkins generated interest from the Colts during the 2021 offseason, but the team ended up re-signing T.Y. Hilton.
As Rapoport notes, the Colts were in the market for a wide receiver at the deadline. Further, rookie Josh Downs left yesterday’s win thanks to a lingering knee injury, and it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to suit up against the Patriots this weekend.
Sammy Watkins is returning to Baltimore. Following his Packers exit ahead of their Week 15 game, the former top-five pick will return to his fourth NFL team.
The Ravens claimed the ninth-year wide receiver Tuesday, Tom Pelissero of NFL.com tweets. With Watkins attached to a league-minimum salary, the Ravens will not be on the hook for much money by reacquiring him. Watkins, 29, played for the Ravens last season but joined the Packers in free agency.
The journeyman pass catcher signed with the Ravens on a one-year, $5MM deal in 2021 — after talks with JuJu Smith-Schuster, T.Y. Hilton and Kenny Golladay did not produce any signings — and made contributions as an auxiliary target for Lamar Jackson and Tyler Huntley. Watkins caught 27 passes for 394 yards and a touchdown with the Ravens, playing 13 games. Playing in nine games with the Packers this season, Watkins caught 13 passes for 206 yards.
This news comes as the Ravens are potentially set to navigate another receiver injury. Devin Duvernay left Baltimore’s practice Tuesday with what the team fears could be a significant foot ailment, Pelissero tweets). With Rashod Bateman out of the picture, the Ravens have relied more on Duvernay this season. The former third-round pick has started 13 games this year and has not missed any time. Duvernay is undergoing tests today.
Concern about Baltimore’s receiving corps emerged before Bateman went down, but the team has not seen much consistency from this position group since the 2021 first-rounder was lost for the season. The Ravens signed DeSean Jackson to their practice squad and soon promoted the 35-year-old deep threat to their active roster; he has seven receptions for 134 yards in five games. Watkins’ former Chiefs teammate, Demarcus Robinson, leads all Raven receivers with 419 yards. Duvernay is just behind him with 407.
Injuries have dogged Watkins for most of his career. The Packers placed Watkins on IR early this season due to a hamstring issue. He also battled hamstring trouble in 2020, missing five games because of that ailment during his final season with the Chiefs, and saw a thigh problem sideline him for three Ravens games last year. Although Watkins carries injury baggage, he did contribute extensively during the Chiefs’ Super Bowl LIV-winning season three years ago. Watkins posted 288 receiving yards in three Kansas City playoff games that year.
Still south of his 30th birthday, Watkins can nevertheless be labeled a post-prime player due to his health history. But he has produced at points in recent years. The Ravens, who relinquished their AFC North lead in Week 15 after a loss to the Browns, will kick the tires on a veteran who has experience in Greg Roman‘s system.
December 19th, 2022 at 11:44am CST by Adam La Rose
After an underwhelming tenure in Green Bay, Sammy Watkinsis headed elsewhere to finish the season. The Packers are waiving the veteran wideout, reports Tom Pelissero of NFL Network (Twitter link). The team has since confirmed the move.
Watkins, 29, has bounced around in recent years while struggling to stay healthy. He spent last season in Baltimore, after signing a one-year deal to provide the Ravens with a veteran pass-catcher while rebuilding his free agent value. He was unable to replicate his more productive campaigns with the Bills, however, leading him to join Green Bay in April on another one-year contract.
Watkins’ arrival came after an offseason in which the Packers traded away Davante Adamsand saw Marquez Valdes-Scantlingdepart in free agency. That left an opening for the veteran to take on at least a rotational role in a new-look WR room led by Allen Lazardand multiple rookies. His first two weeks as a Packer were promising, but another hamstring issue led to an early IR stint. Overall, Watkins has totaled just 206 scoreless yards on 13 receptions in 2022.
The move comes as Romeo Doubsis ready to return from an ankle injury. The fourth-rounder has yet to play since Week 9, but could compliment leading receivers Lazard and fellow rookie Christian Watson now that he is back in the fold. Randall Cobbis also available as a veteran pass-catcher who has out-performed Watkins so far this season.
Watkins will now go on waivers, making him available for any teams looking for late-season wideout depth. Any acquiring team would be responsible for the remainder of his contract, which includes just over $186K in base salary and modest games-played bonuses (Twitter link via Pelissero). Should he go unclaimed, the former fourth overall pick will become a free agent – something which would give him an open choice of destinations for the remainder of this season as he continues to search for a permanent NFL home.
It’s one in, one out for the Packers receiving corps. Just as Green Bay is able to activate veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins off of injured reserve, the team has to place its other veteran, Randall Cobb, on IR, according to Mike Garafolo of NFL Network. The shuffle continues what has been a struggle for quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers offense.
Watkins was placed on the reserve list only two weeks into the season in order to deal with hamstring injuries. It was early in the season, but, after a 93-yard day against the Bears, Watkins was looking like a dangerous target for Rodgers. Through two games this season, Watkins was already on pace to have his best season since his early days in Buffalo. Rodgers should feel a bit of relief getting one of his favorite targets from early in the season back.
Cobb stepped up when Watkins went down and became the Packers’ second-leading receiver behind Allen Lazard. Just as Watkins is ready to return, though, Cobb will take his turn on IR. There was a bit of silver-lining reported yesterday as Cobb’s injury was determined not to be a broken ankle, as was initially feared, but a high ankle sprain that will keep him out for an expected “two to six weeks,” as opposed to the initial diagnosis of a season-ending injury.
With Cobb out and rookie second-round pick Christian Watson also dealing with hamstring issues, the Packers will look forward to getting Watkins back in the lineup, but they’ll likely be cautious with his return. Watkins is listed as questionable going into Sunday’s game in Landover, and he will likely have limited participation against the Commanders. Lazard and rookie fourth-round pick Romeo Doubs will be the main targets alongside Watkins with return specialist Amari Rodgers and rookie seventh-round pick Samori Toure filling in where needed.
In a couple other moves leading in the Week 7 slate, the Packers also placed offensive lineman Jake Hanson on IR and promoted outside linebacker La’Darius Hamilton as a gameday elevation.
With Randall Cobb likely headed to IR, the other non-rookie-contract wideout in Green Bay’s receiving corps may be coming back to the active roster. Sammy Watkins will practice Wednesday with the Packers, starting his three-week window to return from IR.
Watkins went down with a hamstring injury in Week 2, so this week represented the ninth-year veteran’s first crack at practicing. This return to work is certainly a good sign for the Packers and their injury-prone wideout, who could come off IR as soon as this week. Matt LaFleur stopped short of guaranteeing that will happen, citing conditioning, Mike Garafolo of NFL.com tweets.
On a third team in three years, Watkins signed a one-year deal worth $1.85MM to join the Packers. They are his fifth NFL squad. The former No. 4 overall pick has not played a full season since his rookie year and has missed at least two games in each of the past five seasons. A hamstring injury caused him to miss five games in 2020 as well.
Prior to his injury, Watkins caught six passes for 111 yards. He totaled 394 yards in 13 Ravens games last season. He topped 500 during each of his first two Chiefs years and aided the 2019 Super Bowl-winning team with 288 in those playoffs.
Watkins has seen a bit of a resurgence so far in his ninth NFL season. The 29-year-old has led the Packers in receiving yards through the first two games with six catches for 111 yards. Watkins’ resurgent season has seen the benefit of Rodgers’ top returning target, Allen Lazard, missing Week 1 as he deals with an ankle injury. He also has taken advantage of his competition for targets being rookies and a 32-year-old Randall Cobb. Regardless, Watkins has made the most of his early opportunities and the Packers will have to make up for some lost production in his absence.
Lazard has been cleared to play but is still dealing with that ankle injury. Rookie Christian Watson joins Watkins in his hamstring issues and Cobb has not practiced recently due to illness. Both are currently listed as questionable. Beyond those four, Rodgers will have to rely on two more rookies in Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure, second-year return specialist Amari Rodgers, and practice squad gameday call-up Juwann Winfree.
Watkins dealt with hamstring issues during his lone season in Baltimore last year, as well, missing four games and being mostly held out of the final three. He’s never quite been the portrait of health. Watkins hasn’t played in every game of the regular season since his rookie year back in 2014. Since then, he’s missed an average of four games per season. Watkins will be eligible to return to play in time for the Packers Week 7 matchup with the Commanders.
After moving Watkins to IR, Green Bay signed practice squad running back Patrick Taylor to the active roster in a corresponding move. Winfree, as mentioned above, has also been called to the active roster, but, as a standard gameday elevation, he will revert back to the practice squad after the game.
Here are a few other Sunday game statuses we heard about today, starting with two top receivers in Green Bay:
The Packers‘ top returning receiver from last year had to miss Week 1 while dealing with an ankle injury. While they got Allen Lazard back last week, he was seen limping at points of the game. Regardless, Lazard “is optimistic about playing” this week versus Tampa Bay, according to ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler. The Packers have been cautious with him in practice this week, but it’s likely been precautionary. On the other hand, quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be without one of his top targets as Sammy Watkinshas been ruled out with a hamstring injury, according to Field Yates of ESPN. Rookie wide receiver Christian Watson is also dealing with hamstring issues but is listed as questionable going into the weekend.
Vikings safety Harrison Smith is expected to miss his first game due to injury since 2016, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Smith did sit out two games last year on the COVID-19/reserve list and took a rest day in the 2019 season finale, but a concussion suffered in Monday night’s loss to the Eagles will likely hold him out against the Lions this week.
Tyler Kroft has been the man for the 49ers at tight end, starting twice to begin the season in place of the injured star, George Kittle. He has never been a strong receiving threat, but his ability to run block has made him a valuable asset to the San Francisco offense. In the team’s Week 2 win over the Seahawks, though, Kroft suffered a sprained MCL. He’s expected “to miss several weeks” because of the knee injury, but, due to new injured reserve rules, the veteran will not be placed on IR, according to David Lombardi of The Athletic. The new rules this year dictate that only eight players can be designated to return from IR, so, even though Kroft will be eligible to return after several weeks, the 49ers are choosing to save their designated to return IR spots for more valuable players who may end up sustaining injuries later on in the season. The timing of Kroft’s injury is not the worst it could possibly be as Kittle is set to return this week from injury. Kittle is mostly known for his receiving ability but is a decent run blocker in his own right and will help to vacate any deficit resulting from Kroft’s absence.
The Lions will be down one of their rotational defensive linemen when they play the Vikings and, according to Justin Rogers of the Detroit News, a recent surgery will hold him out for a while. Defensive lineman John Cominsky is dealing with a wrist injury that required the surgery. Cominsky may not be a household name, but, when he was put on waivers after three years of playing with the Falcons, Cominsky drew the interest of one-fourth of the league, as eight teams were intrigued enough to put in claims on the former Golden Eagle out of Division II Charleston in West Virginia. The Lions were second in the waiver order and were granted the 6-foot-5 lineman, but the Commanders, Colts, Browns, Texans, Cardinals, Vikings, and Bengals all attempted to bring him in. With Cominsky out, Lions head coach Dan Campbell suggested that the starting four defensive linemen will be backed up by the likes of Austin Bryant and undrafted rookie Demetrius Taylor.
The Packers have had a more eventful offseason than nearly every other team in the league. One of the results of their moves is a decided lack of proven commodities at the receiver position, something which sparked quarterback Aaron Rodgers‘ recent comments about the improvement which needs to be made amongst some of their new pass-catchers.
“The young guys, especially young receivers, we’ve got to be way more consistent,” the reigning MVP said, via PFF’s Doug Kyed. “A lot of drops, a lot of bad route decisions, running the wrong route. We’ve got to get better in that area.”
Per Kyed, Rodgers has stated they he wants Allen Lazardto operate as the “top option,” something which doesn’t come as much of a surprise given his NFL resume. Rodgers’ preference would be for Lazard to be joined as a starter by veterans Sammy Watkinsand Randall Cobb – a trio which would include, by far, the most experience available. However, rookies Romeo Doubs(who has seen first-team reps) and Christian Watson (whom the Packers traded up to select in the second round) could unseat Watkins and/or Cobb, leaving the team with more upside – but less certainty – at an important position as they look to contend for a Super Bowl.
Here are some more WR notes from around the league:
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was asked about the possibility of signing Antonio Brownyesterday. The former All-Pro hasn’t generated much interest since his colorful exit from the Buccaneers in the middle of a game last season, but would add experience to a banged-up Dallas receiver room. Instead, Jones replied “we want to give these young guys a real chance to make this team” (Twitter link via Jon Machota of The Athletic). A number of inexperienced wideouts are competing for depth spots behind the likes of CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, James Washingtonand Jalen Tolbert, and will be allowed to continue doing so for the remainder of the preseason.
Kyed tweets that one of the surprise omissions from the Patriots’ depth chart, according to some, could be Nelson Agholor. However, he notes that cutting him would not be financially viable (doing so would incur a dead cap charge of $10MM), and adds that teams which could be interested in trading for him are not willing to do so at his current salary of $9MM. More to the point, the team’s new offense could allow the 29-year-old to enjoy a bounceback season from the underwhelming 37-473-3 statline he produced last year.
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 Glennin 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.
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.