Sammy Watkins

Mutual Interest Between Sammy Watkins, Chiefs On New Contract

Sammy Watkins will be a free agent in March, with the former top-five pick’s current Chiefs agreement running through Super Bowl LV. While the veteran has struggled to stay healthy throughout his Kansas City tenure, he has emerged for some big performances in high-stakes spots.

The seventh-year wideout is on track to return for the Super Bowl after missing both prior Chiefs playoff games, but he could well head into free agency alongside receivers who have established more momentum and hit the market in a year in which the salary cap is expected to drop. Watkins agreed to a pay cut to stay with the Chiefs this season; the franchise’s success will impact his choice going forward.

I would say, let’s win this Super Bowl and see where my head will be at,” Watkins said, via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher. “It would definitely be something to think about. It would definitely be something I would talk to my wife and my kids about, to think about coming back. Would I love a third ring? For sure. I would definitely not say no about it.”

One of Brett Veach‘s first big moves as GM was giving Watkins a surprising $16MM-per-year contract. While the former Bills draftee did not live up to that deal on a statistical basis, failing to top 700 receiving yards in any of his three Chiefs seasons, Watkins delivered in the 2018 and ’19 playoffs. The former Clemson star has surpassed 60 yards in each of his five Chiefs playoff games, going north of 75 in his past four. The 27-year-old No. 2 wideout missed six games this season, however, due to multiple injuries and only caught 37 passes for 421 yards.

The Chiefs reached high-profile extensions with Patrick Mahomes, Chris Jones and Travis Kelce last year, which will make big-ticket free agency acquisitions sparser going forward. But Watkins will almost certainly command far less than he did in 2018. If the sides can likely agree on a lower number, Veach is interested in bringing Watkins back.

Sammy is a big part of this offense. When he’s healthy, we’re better,” Veach said, via Teicher (on Twitter). “If there’s a way we can make it work again, we’ll certainly try to do that. I love having him around.”

Before any roster cuts, extensions or franchise tags commence, Watkins would be off the top tier of free agent receivers. Chris Godwin, Kenny Golladay, Allen Robinson, Will Fuller, Marvin Jones, Curtis Samuel, Antonio Brown, T.Y. Hilton and A.J. Green are also set for free agency. Not all be available come March, but this depth — and recent drafts producing several quick-study wideouts on rookie deals — stands to create a buyer’s market.

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Antonio Brown, Sammy Watkins On Track For Super Bowl

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins participated in the Chiefs’ Wednesday practice, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. Meanwhile, the Bucs also had one of their most dangerous weapons on hand. Antonio Brown practiced with the Buccaneers, though he was kept to light work as he recovers from a knee injury. 

Watkins has struggled to stay healthy throughout his career and hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie campaign with the Bills back in 2014. Despite that, he remains a serious threat for any opposing defense. This year, Watkins was limited to nine regular season games and finished out with a modest 37/421/2 stat line. If his calf heals up in time for the Super Bowl, it’ll mark his first appearance in this year’s playoffs.

Brown missed the NFC championship game, but the Buccaneers still managed to edge the Packers and punch their ticket to the Super Bowl. In the regular season, the 32-year-old caught 45 passes for 483 yards and four touchdowns. His best game came in Week 17, when he hauled in eleven catches for 138 yards and two touchdowns as Mike Evans was held out.

Fortunately, Brown did not suffer serious structural damage, so the Bucs are hopeful that he can play. It also helps that they kept him grounded a couple of weeks ago to prevent additional swelling at higher altitude. If things keep going in this direction, Brown will be cleared for the second Super Bowl of his career.

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Injury Updates: Goff, Rams, Murray, Cardinals, 49ers, Mixon, Bengals, Watkins, Chiefs, Edelman, Patriots

Things have gotten ugly for Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense the last couple of weeks, with back to back losses to the Jets and Seahawks in which Goff played poorly. Making matters worse, Los Angeles’ quarterback dislocated and broke his thumb during the loss to Seattle. It looks like there are a wide range of outcomes moving forward, with everything from Goff playing this Sunday to being out for the remainder of the season being on the table. Goff will require surgery on the thumb at some point but he’s hoping to push it back until after the season, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports (Twitter video link).

Rapsheet says that Goff is “adamant” about pushing to play in Week 17 and that he at least has a “shot” to be under center. If the Bears lose to the Packers on Sunday then the Rams are in the playoffs no matter what, but if Chicago beats Green Bay then the Rams will need to beat the Cardinals to get in. It sounds like Goff is going to try to push through and suit up for the playoffs even if he isn’t able to be out there on Sunday. Goff is meeting with specialist Dr. Steven Shin today, the same doctor who treated Drew Brees‘ thumb injury last year, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Obviously Brees missed a handful of games with that injury last year, although hopefully for the Rams this isn’t as severe. If Goff is forced to miss the game against Arizona, it’ll mean the first regular season NFL action for former Wake Forest and AAF star John Wolford.

Here are more health issues from around the league entering the final week of the season:

  • Goff isn’t the only banged up quarterback in this pivotal game. Kyler Murray has already dealt with a lingering shoulder injury this season, and he also hurt his leg at the end of Arizona’s Week 16 loss to San Francisco. Speaking to the media Monday head coach Kliff Kingsbury was vague, only deeming it a “lower leg” injury and saying they won’t put Murray out there if he can’t be effective. If the Cards win on Sunday, they’re in. If they don’t, they’re out. In a game of this magnitude, you have to figure Murray is going to play if it’s at all possible, but right now Kingsbury is saying it’s up in the air. This will be a situation to monitor closely, but either way it sounds like Murray is going to be at less than 100 percent against Aaron Donald and co.
  • One last dispatch from the NFC West. The 49ers picked up an upset of the Cardinals, but their injury-plagued season continued. They dropped at least two more starters, as rookie receiver Brandon Aiyuk and left tackle Trent Williams both won’t play in Week 17 due to injuries they suffered against Arizona, Kyle Shanahan said Monday. Shanahan also said he’d be shocked if Jimmy Garoppolo plays this weekend, meaning C.J. Beathard should get another crack at it. Aiyuk has flashed a lot of promise, and 49ers fans have to be excited about his 2021 potential. It’s possible we’ve seen Garoppolo play his last snap as a 49er.
  • Joe Mixon‘s 2020 campaign is officially in the books. The Bengals running back won’t play this weekend, head coach Zac Taylor confirmed Monday. Mixon hasn’t played since all the way back in Week 6 due to a foot injury, but the team kept insisting he was only week to week this whole time. Mixon signed a four-year, $48MM extension back in September, so he’s in Cincy for the long-haul.
  • Chiefs fans can breathe a little easier. Receiver Sammy Watkins went down with a calf injury yesterday, but Rapoport tweets it isn’t believed to be major. Given Watkins’ injury history, that’s a big relief. Rapoport writes that Watkins will rest in Week 17, but that there’s a “good chance” he’s back for Kansas City’s first playoff game.
  • Another player whose season, and quite possibly career, is over: Patriots receiver Julian Edelman. Rapoport tweets that Edelman won’t be activated for tonight’s Monday Night Football showdown with the Bills, and that it’s “unlikely” he plays next week either. Edelman is under contract for next season but he’ll turn 35 in May, so it’s entirely fair to wonder whether he’ll end up retiring. The legendary Patriot, who has spent all 12 years of his career in New England, was limited to only six games this year due to a knee injury.

Chiefs Place Mitchell Schwartz On IR

Mitchell Schwartz has seen his iron-man run stop this season, having missed time due to injury. The Chiefs will now be without their ace right tackle for a while.

Kansas City placed Schwartz on IR Saturday. This move will sideline the All-Pro blocker for at least three more games. Schwartz is dealing with a back injury — one that has shelved him since Week 6.

Prior to the October injury, Schwartz had not missed a game in eight seasons. He had started four years with the Browns and another four with the Chiefs. Kansas City gave Schwartz an extension in the process, relying on his stability as Eric Fisher underwent surgery last season. Both Fisher and Schwartz landed on Kansas City’s reserve/COVID-19 list recently, but Fisher will be back in action against Las Vegas. Schwartz will not.

The Chiefs also removed Mecole Hardman from their reserve/COVID list. They had placed the second-year wideout on the virus list last week. Hardman should play a key role against the Raiders, with Sammy Watkins set to miss the AFC West rivals’ Week 11 rematch.

Kansas City is also activating Alex Okafor and defensive back L’Jarius Sneed from IR. Okafor worked as a starter last season, but a midseason injury knocked him out for the team’s Super Bowl push. A hamstring injury sidelined Okafor this season. A fourth-round rookie, Sneed played well early this year but suffered a broken collarbone in September. Okafor will help out a Chiefs pass rush that will be without Taco Charlton for a while. The Chiefs placed the offseason acquisition on IR Saturday.

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Chiefs Place DE Alex Okafor On IR

While they cannot match their Sunday opponent for impactful injuries, the Chiefs will enter Week 7 missing some key players.

Alex Okafor will miss Sunday’s tilt in Denver and at least two more contests. The Chiefs placed the veteran defensive end on IR Saturday. Okafor has encountered a hamstring issue.

Okafor, All-Pro right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and wideout Sammy Watkins are out Sunday for the Chiefs. Okafor will land on IR for the second straight season. The Chiefs placed the 2019 free agent acquisition on IR after 10 games last season, with a torn pec preventing the veteran pass rusher from playing during the team’s Super Bowl push.

Okafor’s latest injury is not as severe, but it will test Kansas City’s depth a bit. The Chiefs are also without 2020 free agent get Taco Charlton this week. The defending Super Bowl champs have used contract-year defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon ahead of Okafor on their depth chart this season. After Okafor started nine games in 2019, he has worked as a rotational rusher this year. Okafor has a half-sack in 2020.

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Sammy Watkins To Miss Time

The Chiefs are coming off a disappointing defeat at the hands of the Raiders where they lost as double-digit favorites, and now the offense is taking a blow. Receiver Sammy Watkins is expected to miss time with a hamstring injury, a source told Adam Schefter of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

The source told Schefter that the injury will sideline him “possibly a couple weeks.” Watkins has been having a solid but not spectacular season as a secondary option in Kansas City’s offense, with 21 catches for 222 yards and two touchdowns through their five games. He’s in the middle of his third season with the Chiefs after coming over from the Rams.

Watkins is seemingly always dealing with a health issue of some sort, and he hasn’t played a full 16-game season since his rookie campaign with Buffalo back in 2014. A player whose production has never quite lived up to his talent, there was a lot of talk this offseason about Watkins taking a paycut. He briefly flirted with taking a year off from the game, but ultimately agreed to reduce his salary from $14MM to $9MM (with another $7MM available in incentives) to stay with the team.

After an enormous Week 1 last year he quieted down before breaking out again in the playoffs. He had seven catches for 114 yards and a touchdown in the AFC Championship Game, and five catches for 98 yards in ther Super Bowl win over the 49ers. 2019 second-round pick Mecole Hardman will become the number two receiver and play a bigger role in Watkins’ absence.

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WR Notes: Thomas, Adams, Chiefs, Ruggs

Several teams’ receiving situations remain in flux going into the Sunday leg of Week 3. Here is the latest from the marquee pass-catcher position:

  • The Saints will continue to be patient with Michael Thomas. The high ankle sprain the All-Pro suffered will keep him out of Sunday night’s game against the Packers. This will mark just Thomas’ second missed game since his 2016 rookie year and will leave Emmanuel Sanders and Tre’Quan Smith as Drew Brees‘ top receivers.
  • In that game, Aaron Rodgers appears set to work with his younger wideouts. Davante Adams is doubtful for the Packers‘ game in New Orleans, leaving Allen Lazard and Marquez Valdes-Scantling as the top targets for the Sunday night game’s other first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback.
  • With the Raiders attempting to move to 3-0 for the first time since 2002, they will be without Henry Ruggs. The speed merchant played Monday night but suffered a hamstring injury during Las Vegas’ Thursday practice, Paul Gutierrez of ESPN.com notes. Ruggs is also dealing with a knee issue, which he aggravated in the first half of Monday’s win.
  • Ahead of the game of the 2020 season to date, the Chiefs have their No. 2 wide receiver in concussion protocol. Sammy Watkins‘ status is uncertain for Kansas City’s game in Baltimore, and Andy Reid said the seventh-year wideout has encountered a neck problem as well, per Adam Teicher of ESPN.com. The Chiefs are better insured here than most, with 2019 second-round speedster Mecole Hardman on track to play a bigger role were Watkins to miss time. Watkins left the Chiefs’ Week 2 win early after suffering the head injury.
  • As the Cardinals look for their first 3-0 start in five years, Kyler Murray will be without one of his top three receivers. Christian Kirk did not practice this week and is out with a groin injury. The third-year wideout has three receptions for 57 yards this season.
  • The Jets will be without their top receiver Sunday. Jamison Crowder‘s hamstring injury will sideline him for another week. Gang Green already has Denzel Mims on IR and Breshad Perriman out potentially beyond this week, while Crowder replacement Braxton Berrios is questionable to face the Colts.

Bills Say They Had No Interest In Sammy Watkins Reunion

Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins recently told Tyler Dunne of Bleacher Report that the Bills tried to bring him back to Buffalo this past offseason. However, Bills GM Brandon Beane says that’s not true. 

That’s 100% false. We never spoke to Sammy Watkins or any of his representation about trading for him. Secondly, we never discussed him with anyone in our building that matters. End of discussion,” Beane said (Twitter link via Sal Capaccio of WGR 550).

The Bills did have wide receiver on the to-do list, but they checked that box in mid-March by trading for Vikings star Stefon Diggs. Even before that point, Beane says they did not want to get back into business with Watkins. The former No. 4 overall pick performed when he was healthy and on the field, but he played in just 37 of 48 possible regular season games, and he didn’t finish all of them. Watkins averaged 66 catches, 1,064 yards, and seven touchdowns per 16 games, but his rookie year (2014) marked his only full 16-game slate.

Meanwhile, Watkins tells Dunne that he was in a dark place during his time in Buffalo.

I would go out and get wasted. Wasted, wasted,” Watkins said. “I just went into a shell where I blocked out the world. I was down. Real bad. Everything around me was bad…I went home into that dark place and was like: ‘F—.’ My whole life is in shambles.'”

Fortunately, Watkins feels at home with the defending world champs. This offseason, he renegotiated his contract to rejoin the Chiefs for one more year with a base salary of $9MM. The deal also includes a no-trade clause, so any teams that are interested in Watkins during the year will need his approval in order to trade for him.

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Chiefs Re-Sign Sammy Watkins

Sammy Watkins is staying put. On Friday morning, the Chiefs reached agreement on a new one-year deal with the veteran wide receiver, as Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets

Throughout the offseason, there’s been talk of Watkins either taking a pay cut to stay in KC or walking away from football for at least one season. Watkins went with the former option. Under the terms of his old deal, Watkins was set to earn $14MM – an outsized sum given his role in the Chiefs’ stacked offense. Now, he’ll make $9MM in base salary with the potential to earn another $7MM through incentives, as Terez A. Paylor of Yahoo Sports reports (via Twitter). Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network lays out most of those incentives, which are as follows (Twitter link):

  • Eight TDs and Chiefs make playoffs: $750K
  • 65 catches + playoffs: $750K
  • 800 yards + playoffs: $750k
  • AFC Championship Game win (50% snaps in game): $1.25MM
  • 65 catches + AFC Championship Game win: $1.25MM
  • 800 yards + AFC Championship Game win: $1.25MM

Those incentives “only” total $6MM, so assuming Paylor’s report is accurate, there is another $1MM incentives to be had, perhaps based on non-playoff-related milestones. If Watkins hits those incentives, he could earn up to $16MM, so in theory, his pay cut could actually wind up as a pay raise. At his best and healthiest in Buffalo, Watkins was a world-class offensive weapon. In KC, Watkins competes for targets with Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and other dangerous receivers, which makes it a little trickier to hit statistical markers.

There are two other major pluses to the new deal: it includes a no-trade clause, and it allows Watkins to hit unrestricted free agency next year at the age of 27. If he has a big year, he could cash in on a lucrative multi-year contract with the Chiefs or another club in need of a deep threat. Watkins has hauled in at least 40 catches for 500 receiving yards and three touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s also shined in the postseason with an average of 92.8 receiving yards in five playoff games for the Chiefs.

Loaded with talent – especially on Watkins’ side of the ball – the Chiefs have mostly managed to keep the band together. They’ll bring back ten of their eleven offensive starters from the Super Bowl and eight of their nine best receivers, as Field Yates of ESPN.com (on Twitter) notes. The Watkins restructure will help them to fortify a little bit. The Chiefs had next-to-zero cap room before the adjustment; they now have $5MM in breathing room.

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Chiefs To Talk With Sammy Watkins

The Chiefs want Sammy Watkins back in 2020, but not at his current rate. On Tuesday, Chiefs GM Brett Veach confirmed that he’ll sit down with Watkins’ agents this week to discuss a new deal that would fit the team’s budget. 

We’ll sit down and talk about the landscape of where we are and what would make sense to us and how we can make this work and we’ll get feedback from them in regards to what they’re looking for and hopefully we can bridge a gap and make something happen,’’ Veach said. (Twitter link via ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher).

Watkins is slated to earn $14MM in 2020, a figure that doesn’t make much sense given his current place in the Chiefs’ offensive hierarchy. Still, Watkins’ presence alongside Travis Kelce, Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and other weapons gives opposing defenses extra cause for concern, and the veteran came through in some crucial moments for the Super Bowl champs last year.

Recently, Watkins stopped short of saying that he’d take a pay cut to stay, but he seems open to one. Frankly, it’s the only way that he’ll be able to remain in KC – his salary comes with a $21MM cap hit and there’s no conceivable way that the Chiefs can make that work as they get set to defend their throne.

Watkins has posted least 40 receptions, 500 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. He’s also been clutch in the playoffs – he’s averaged 92.8 receiving yards across his five postseason contests with the Chiefs.

At one point, Watkins hinted at the possibility of taking a year off from football and returning in 2021. That no longer seems like the plan for him, but he suggested recently that he could skip a portion of OTAs to spend more time with his family.

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