Sammy Watkins

Packers Activate WR Sammy Watkins, Place WR Randall Cobb On IR

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.

Packers Designate WR Sammy Watkins For Return

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.

The Packers also played without rookie second-rounder Christian Watson due to a hamstring ailment this week, while Cobb was carted off due to a significant (but not season-ending) ankle issue. Injury concerns notwithstanding, Watkins will be a welcome addition to a Green Bay receiving corps that continues to generate concern. The team is believed to be pursuing pass-catching upgrades ahead of the Nov. 1 deadline.

Packers Place WR Sammy Watkins On IR

The Packers ruled out veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins yesterday as he deals with hamstring issues, but they took the ruling a step further today as the team placed him on injured reserve. The new ruling means that not only will Watkins miss tomorrow’s game against the Buccaneers, but quarterback Aaron Rodgers will have to wait four weeks to get his top receiver back. 

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.

NFC Injury Updates: Bucs, Packers, Smith

Tampa Bay knew it would be without two of its bigger playmakers in wide receiver Chris Godwin and defensive tackle Akiem Hicks this week. That is no surprise, as Godwin missed last week with a hamstring ailment and Hicks is predicted to miss a month with a foot injury. The Buccaneers were hoping to get back offensive tackle Donovan Smith this week, but he is doubtful to appear this Sunday against the Packers, according to Cameron Wolfe of NFL Network.

Smith suffered a hyperextended right elbow in Tampa Bay’s Week 1 victory over the Cowboys. Last week, the Buccaneers slotted Josh Wells in to start for Smith, but, after Wells suffered a calf injury that landed him on injured reserve in the team’s matchup with the Saints, they’ll likely turn to Brandon Walton who replaced Wells last Sunday.

It was also reported, by Buccaneers staff writer Brianna Dix, that wide receiver Julio Jones is expected to be a game-time decision, according to head coach Todd Bowles.

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 Watkins has 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.

WR Notes: Packers, Brown, Agholor, Bucs

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.

[RELATED: Packers Claim WR Fulgham]

“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 Lazard to 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 Watkins and 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 Brown yesterday. 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 Washington and 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 AgholorHowever, 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.
  • The Buccaneers are set at the top of their depth chart, but also have a number of intriguing wideouts competing for rotational roles. As a result, veterans like Scotty MillerCyril Grayson and Breshad Perriman could find themselves on the roster bubble. Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times notes that a trio of UDFAs – Jerreth SternsDeven Thompkins and Kaylon Geiger – have stood out in camp so far, to the point where head coach Todd Bowles said “those guys are making a case” for spots on the 53-man roster. Several noteworthy cuts will be made in Tampa by the end of August, but who will be among them remains very much up in the air.

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.