Kansas City Chiefs lock up Sammy Watkins to help reshape offensive identity
Kansas City Chiefs general manager Brett Veach pretty much forecast this move at the NFL scouting combine.
Asked how his team’s offense might change with Patrick Mahomes at quarterback with Alex Smith agreed to be traded to Washington, Veach made sure to remind us of what the Chiefs might be seeking to add to the WR corps.
“Look, Patrick has a cannon,” Veach said. “Everybody wants fast receivers. But knowing you have a quarterback that really doesn’t have a limit in how far he can throw is a good thing. They are highly coveted throughout the league, but I’m sure, yes, we will be in that market.”
It was confirmed early Tuesday morning they would be. Reports suggest that the Chiefs will sign free-agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins to a three-year deal for $48 million, with $30 million of it guaranteed at the time he signs it. Free agents may begin making deals official starting on Wednesday.
Watkins, 24, now can cash in again when he’s 27 — assuming he stays healthy. Last season was the exception to that rule for the most part when he stepped in and made some big plays after being traded to the Los Angeles Rams in August from the Buffalo Bills.
Although Watkins’ final numbers (39 catches, 593 yards, 15.2 yards per catch, eight TDs) aren’t $16M-per-year caliber, he did have his footprint on that offense. The Rams went from worst in points scored to first, more than doubling their average (a paltry 14.0 ppg to a whopping 29.9). He helped stretch defenses, opening things up for Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods.
That’s the effect the Chiefs hope Watkins has. Mahomes isn’t likely underthrowing anyone, and now he has two top deep threats in Tyreek Hill and Watkins. They also have Travis Kelce patrolling the middle and Kareem Hunt grinding. Kelce is the oldest of the bunch at 28; the rest of those skill-position players are 24 or younger.
The Rams tried to keep Watkins, even though they used the franchise tag on defensive back Lamarcus Joyner, but it became clear the price was getting out of their range for a player with two 100-yard games in his past 23 contests, an injury-riddled history in his brief career and only four games (out of 52) with more than seven catches.
Expect 2017 fourth-rounder Josh Reynolds to step into a bigger role, even if he’s a different style of receiver than Watkins.