On March 14, 2018 free agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins signed a three-year 48-million-dollar contract with the Kansas City Chiefs. That adds up to an average of 16 million a year, good for 4th highest annual salary by a wide receiver at the time of the signing.
Since then, things haven’t gone according to plan for Watkins and the Chiefs. In two seasons with Kansas City, Watkins has accumulated 1,192 yards, 92 catches and 6 touchdowns in 24 games. That’s closer to what Chiefs fans were expecting for one season, not two. Add in that Watkins caught three of his six touchdowns in week one against Jacksonville this year, and the numbers look even worse. The often-injured Watkins has not been worth the amount of money the Chiefs are paying him and many fans believed it was a forgone conclusion that the Chiefs were going to cut Watkins following this season.
But then the postseason rolled around and the advanced solar reptile showed us the form he takes in January; Playoff Sammy. Watkins has been the rock for the Chiefs in the playoffs and has been the big play receiver for the Chiefs. Watkins has 19 catches for 366 yards and a touchdown in four playoff games. That’s more yards than Travis Kelce and more catches and yards than Tyreek Hill. Both still have more touchdowns than Watkins, but with Watkins averaging nearly 20 yards per catch, his impact is evident. Watkins essentially iced the AFC Championship with a 60-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to send the Chiefs to the Super Bowl.
His playoff impact has been so strong, that fans are starting to wonder if the Chiefs will try to bring Watkins back in 2020. Watkins still has 14 million remaining on his contract but cutting him would result in 7 million in dead cap space. Neither seems very desirable, but based on regular season Sammy, cutting him seems like the only logical move. However, with how important Watkins has been to the Chiefs postseason runs, bringing him back on a restructured deal seems like a smart move by the Chiefs. Watkins is still only 26 and seems to really enjoy playing in Kansas City. Who can blame him? He gets to play with Patrick Mahomes and probably won’t get big market money in free agency.
The Chiefs will also be in the market for a wide receiver. Kelce isn’t getting any younger and while Hardman and Hill are both special, they are both rather smaller receivers and who knows how Hardman will progress from year one to year two. Watkins gives the Chiefs that third or fourth option that helps make this offense so special. If the two sides can get a deal done and restructure Watkins contract, the Chiefs would be smart in bringing him back. The real question will be if the Chiefs can overlook his regular season woes and focus on the playoffs where Watkins has really shined. That may be tough to do. I guess Watkins will just have to show the Chiefs why he should stick around with another heroic performance on Super Bowl Sunday.