- Sammy Watkins is a fascinating free agent in the 2021 offseason
- Free agency comes at an odd time in Watkins’ career
- Which teams will show interest this offseason?
Free agency is arguably the most compelling part of the NFL offseason because it features players at various points of their career arc. There are guys who are just concluding their rookie contracts in search of a second deal. Others are longtime veterans looking to latch on with a contender to win a Super Bowl. Then, there are other players in between, like Sammy Watkins.
He’s only 27 years old, but in a lot of ways, it feels like Watkins has done almost everything there is to do as an NFL wide receiver. He was drafted fourth overall in the 2014 Draft by the Buffalo Bills, and played the role of star receiver. In 2015, he amassed over 1,000 yards and scored 9 touchdowns. The very next season, he transitioned into the phase of his career where he was labeled as injury prone, and fans questioned whether he was a true number one.
After spending one season with the Los Angeles Rams, Watkins joined the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018, and has played for them ever since. He’s settled in as a dynamic third option on a high powered offense in recent years, so it will be interesting to see how he approaches free agency. Does he take a shorter deal at a lower salary to remain with the Chiefs, or join another contender? Or does he try to re-establish himself as a premier receiver in the NFL, and prove he can stay healthy?
Let’s take a look at three teams who should pursue Sammy Watkins in free agency.
Without any truly stellar wide receivers to speak of, the Ravens have been one of the most successful teams in the NFL the past two seasons. Their offense isn’t really predicated on pushing the ball downfield, but having a talent like Watkins on their roster could help them take the next step in the AFC.
Opposing defenses know that when they play Baltimore, they have to sell out to stop the run.
I would like to see the Ravens sign AB or Corey Davis or AJ Green or Sammy Watkins or Nelson Agholor in free agency. It might be cheap.
— Jason Song (@jsong52) March 2, 2021
Even with this knowledge, it’s hard to achieve, but good teams can pull it off. If the Ravens paired Watkins with Hollywood Brown and Mark Andrews, safeties would have to think twice about playing in the box. Plus, with the Ravens run heavy offense, Watkins probably wouldn’t be play every snap, limiting his wear and tear.
It’s not like the Seahawks are desperate for receiving talent. D.K. Metcalf is on a trajectory to become one of the most feared players the league has seen in a long time. Tyler Lockett is not an imposing physical figure, but runs crisp routes and has a good rapport with Russell Wilson.
But if Seattle wants to get back into the upper echelon of teams in the NFC, they’ll need one more weapon to keep defenses honest.
Much like in the same way the Chiefs used Watkins, Seattle could use him to take pressure off their main players. During games where the defense is determined to not let Metcalf beat them, Watkins could find himself single covered down the field. It would be a worthwhile partnership for both sides.
The Browns have been no stranger to stealing the headlines in the offseason. They liberally pursued Austin Hooper and Jack Conklin in free agency last year, and could be active again in 2021. Cleveland seems to have found a formula that works under head coach Kevin Stefanski, and Watkins might be one of their missing pieces.
It remains uncertain whether the Browns will retain Odell Beckham Jr., but there’s still a place for Watkins in Cleveland with or without him. The team will feed running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt carries, leaving only a few opportunities for wide receivers anyway.
But all Jarvis Landry, OBJ, and Watkins need is one chance to change the game, so this could be another contending team that is a fit for the former number four overall pick.