Sammy Watkins

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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Latest On Chiefs WR Sammy Watkins

The last we heard from Sammy Watkins, the wideout suggested that he could take a year off if the Chiefs won the Super Bowl. Well, following Kansas City’s victory, the wideout is walking back on his comments. Watkins told Alex Marvez and Gil Brandt of SiriusXM that he intends to play in 2020 (Twitter link). The receiver said that he could miss part of OTAs “for his mental health and to spend time with his young family.”

Meanwhile, the Chiefs want to retain Watkins, reports NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero (via Twitter). However, the team may have to overcome some financial hurdles to keep him around. The veteran is set to earn a hefty $14MM next season, and he’s attached to a $21MM cap hit. With Kansas City eyeing only around $16MM in cap space, it seems inevitable that the organization will approach Watkins about a pay cut. Fortunately for the Chiefs, it sounds like the receiver is receptive to the idea.

Watkins has been a reliable target for Patrick Mahomes during his two seasons in Kansas City. While he hasn’t come close to matching his 1,000-yard performance from 2015, he’s had at least 40 receptions, 500 receiving yards, and three touchdowns in both 2018 and 2019. Watkins has been especially productive in the postseason, where he’s averaged 92.8 receiving yards in his five games with Kansas City. That includes his five-catch, 98-yard performance against the 49ers on Sunday.

The Chiefs will also have a decision to make on impending free agent Chris Jones. The defensive lineman was named a Pro Bowler this past season after compiling nine sacks, and he had a standout performance during the Super Bowl. Pelissero notes that while the Chiefs would prefer to extend the 25-year-old, they’d also consider slapping him with the franchise tag.

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Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins Won’t Rule Out Pay Cut

Sammy Watkins has found a home with the Chiefs, and he doesn’t want to leave anytime soon. Staying on board for 2020 could require a pay cut – something that the wide receiver won’t rule out.

I don’t want to say I will be (open to a pay cut). I don’t want to say I won’t,” he said. “I just think I’m a special player. I think I deserve all the things I deserve. If I’m at home and thinking about it, if I have to do it to pay [Patrick Mahomes], I maybe will. That’s a guy that we should pay, and he needs to get paid. But you never know, that’s a decision I’d have to go through.”

Watkins, of course, has bigger fish to fry this week. After the Super Bowl, both he and the Chiefs will have some decisions to make. The Chiefs have Watkins under contract for 2020 at a cap figure of $21MM with $13.75MM in base pay, but none of that money is guaranteed. It seems highly likely that the Chiefs will ask Watkins to take a pay cut, even as the timing of a Mahomes extension remains uncertain.

Watkins still poses a threat to opposing defenses, but his production doesn’t necessarily warrant that kind of money. In 2019, he had 52 catches for 673 yards – third on the team in both categories, behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill.

I don’t think numbers prove anything,” Watkins said in response to his stat line. “Numbers are just numbers to me. Numbers may mean a lot to the world, but I don’t think that proves what I do for this team. Me bringing the great energy every day, me being the person that I am…if you can value me off that, I think my value would be very high. I don’t think my value is all off scoring touchdowns or getting 1,000 yards receiving. I don’t think I’m valued like that. I’m valued off being around the guy, being positive, coming into work every day, being a professional. I think if you would judge me off that, you would give me the world.”

He’s also delivered in key moments, including the AFC Championship Game where he had seven catches for 114 yards, including the TD to ice the game.

If asked to take a pay cut, Watkins may or may not say yes. He also offered up a third possibility:

Or I might just take off a year after we win the Super Bowl, you never know.”

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West Notes: Broncos, Chiefs, Johnson

The Bryce Callahan situation is moving closer toward the Broncos not seeing him on the field this season. After a report surfaced indicating the offseason signing now may miss the season, Vic Fangio said (via the Denver Post’s Ryan O’Halloran, on Twitter) seeing Callahan on the field this year has become a 50-50 proposition. Fangio said earlier this week he was hopeful his former Bears pupil would suit up in 2019. The Broncos signed both Callahan and Kareem Jackson to patch up their secondary, but the former continues to struggle to shake off the foot trouble that ended his 2018 season early. With contract-year standout Chris Harris still a trade candidate, though a player that may end up staying, the Broncos’ long-term cornerback situation is in as bleak of a place since before the franchise’s 2004 Champ Bailey acquisition.

Here is the latest from the West divisions, shifting first to another key Broncos signing:

  • Denver’s Ja’Wuan James investment has gone almost as poorly as its Callahan addition. James suffered an injury in the first quarter of the Broncos’ Week 1 game and has missed every snap since. However, the well-paid right tackle is expected to start this week, Troy Renck of Denver7 tweets. James is believed to be set to play in a part-time capacity, with a three-tackle rotation between he, Garett Bolles and Elijah Wilkinson in the cards. Wilkinson has started the past six Broncos games at right tackle.
  • In addition to Patrick Mahomes‘ Week 8 absence, the Chiefs will be without Frank Clark. The team declared its top defensive end out with a neck injury. Chris Jones, Kendall Fuller and Eric Fisher will miss another game as well. Clark broke out for a dominant performance against Bolles in Kansas City’s Week 7 win, but the offseason acquisition will have to wait until at least Week 9 to build on that performance.
  • However, the Chiefs will have Sammy Watkins back. The oft-injured wide receiver suffered a hamstring injury in Week 5, but ESPN.com’s Adam Teicher notes he will play against the Packers. In Year 2 of a $16MM-AAV deal, Watkins has not caught a pass since Week 4.
  • David Johnson enters this week’s Cardinals game in the same place he did the past two games: as a game-time decision. Kliff Kingsbury said (via AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban, on Twitter) the former All-Pro back does not need practice to suit up for a game, but with Chase Edmonds playing well in relief, this shapes up as a true game-time call. Johnson suited up for Week 7 but spent most of his afternoon on the sideline. Both Christian Kirk and Jordan Hicks are game-day calls as well.