Where Could The Chiefs first round WR land?
By: Martin Williams
As a seven-year veteran of the league having been fourth off the board in the 2014 draft, Sammy Watkins is one of the top available wide receivers in free agency this off season.
Although no longer an elite wide out, he would be ideal option for several teams looking to add depth at that position. At 27 years old, he has good hands, is a solid route runner and has stepped up in big moments for the Kansas City Chiefs in the last three seasons.
Having restructured his last deal last year on a reduced salary, at this stage of his career Watkins has shown that money isn’t everything, so could be a suitor not just for those with plenty of cap space.
With that in mind, here’s just four possible destinations for the Clemson University stud.
Probably the least likely on this list, but I just like the fit. With one of the most exciting QBs in the league in Kyler Murray running the offense, the Cardinals and Watkins could be a great match.
The trade to bring DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona was huge and provided Murray with arguably the best wide receiver around. He racked up 1407 receiving yards last season, with seven 100 yard games.
But the longer the season went on, the more predictable the Cardinals became. When Murray wasn’t rushing – he ran for a mammoth 819 yards on the season – or throwing to Hopkins, they weren’t as productive. Christian Kirk proved a clear second choice in terms of targets, but Watkins could add real depth to what is an ever-improving offence.
Hopkins is currently the highest paid wide receiver in the league though, and with the Cardinals needing help on both sides of the ball and roughly 11.8 million in cap space available (per overthecap.com), Watkins is affordable but may not be essential.
In terms of cap space, the Bengals have nothing to worry about. Exciting quarterback Joe Burrow is on a rookie deal, and they have in excess of 37 million available. Even if Watkins was to command a 10 million salary, it wouldn’t hurt them.
Burrow will return off the back of tearing his ACL and MCL in his left knee in week 11, and the priority for Cincinnati will no doubt be to add protection on their offensive line.
But they will also want to provide their franchise quarterback with targets, and Watkins could be one they look to. Tee Higgins (908 yards on 67 receptions) and Tyler Boyd (841 yards on 79 receptions) split the lead roles in the offense last year. A third option for Burrow would be welcome in Cincy.
The Miami Dolphins are another team looking to bolster their options at wide receiver and they have cap space available to do so.
Question marks still surround quarterback Tua Tagovailoa after an indifferent start to life in Florida, so much so that there have been talks of a potential trade during the off season.
Despite that talk, it seems harsh to judge Tua based on the options available to him. The wide receiver corps in Miami was poor to say the least last year. DeVante Parker was their top wide out, hauling in 63 targets for 793 yards, but apart from him, they lack any real quality at the position.
Regardless of whether Tua stays or goes, whoever the starting quarterback is next year, they’ll need reinforcements and Watkins would provide adequate quality.
Kansas City Chiefs
Despite all of the possible options, Watkins staying in Kansas still seems the most likely. General Manager Brett Veach came out last week and said that they will do all they can to keep Watkins on the roster.
He joined the Chiefs back in 2018 on a three year $48 million dollar contract, and became a weapon in one of the most exciting offenses in football.
Off the back of helping the team win Super Bowl 54, where he caught five passes for 98 yards, including a 38-yard catch on what turned out to be a game-winning drive, Watkins and the Chiefs restructed the last year of his deal. Watkins agreed to take a pay cut in order to stay with the team, in turn helping the Chiefs with cap-limit issues.
With the Chiefs still close to the cap limit, if Watkins does choose to stay, he may need to take a further reduction in salary.
Kansas will be keen to see him return though. Due to injury he only managed 10 regular season appearances in the 2020/21 season but returned for the Super Bowl. Despite that, he was still hampered by the calf injury he suffered in week 16, and was targeted just once, making 13 yards on the play. Had he been fit, he would’ve undoubtedly played a bigger role in the outcome of the game.