NFL

Patrick Mahomes Keeps Key Weapon as Chiefs Restructure Sammy Watkins’ Contract

Sammy Watkins will continue catching Patrick Mahomes’ passes to open the new decade. Watkins, a former first-round pick who has developed into a reliable target for Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, restructured his contract and signed a one-year deal worth $9 million early Friday morning. The new contract keeps Watkins in Kansas City for the 2020 season before he hits free agency as a 27-year-old next year.

Did the Kansas City Chiefs make the smart move by retaining Sammy Watkins? Let’s take a look.

Sammy Watkins has become one of Patrick Mahomes’ most essential weapons

Although Sammy Watkins hasn’t quite lived up to expectations as a former No. 4 overall pick, the former Clemson star has nonetheless had a productive NFL career so far. Watkins enters the 2020 season with 284 receptions, 4,244 receiving yards and 31 receiving touchdowns to his name.

After beginning his career as an explosive No. 1 threat with the Buffalo Bills, Watkins has settled into a niche role as a solid third option for Mahomes and the Chiefs.

Sammy Watkins caught 52 passes for 673 yards and three touchdowns last year. The 6-foot-1 receiver added 14 catches, 288 yards, and a touchdown in three playoff games for the Super Bowl champions. Watkins’ new contract includes up to $7 million in incentives and a no-trade clause.

Sammy Watkins will be a free agent next year

Veteran NFL receiver Sammy Watkins won his first Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Watkins is one of quarterback Patrick Mahomes' most important weapons.
Veteran NFL receiver Sammy Watkins won his first Super Bowl with the Kansas City Chiefs last year. Watkins is one of quarterback Patrick Mahomes’ most important weapons. | Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Although Sammy Watkins is a known commodity at this point, the one-year contract is similar to the type of “prove-it” deals that other players sign. If Watkins continues playing well in the Chiefs’ dangerous offense and doesn’t suffer from a Super Bowl hangover, he could be in line for a nice payday next spring.

Sammy Watkins won’t break the bank next year even if he records his first 1,000-yard season since 2015. Still, Watkins deserves credit for reinventing himself after things didn’t work out in Buffalo or with the Rams.

By signing Sammy Watkins and Demarcus Robinson to new, one-year contracts, the Chiefs have made it clear they want to enter next season with the same core that led them to a Super Bowl title. That is the right call for a team with a young quarterback — even with all of his accolades, it is easy to forget Patrick Mahomes doesn’t turn 25 until September — in a winnable division.

The Kansas City Chiefs should be considered Super Bowl favorites next year

The 2003-04 New England Patriots were the last team to repeat as Super Bowl champions. Before the Patriots, John Elway and the Denver Broncos were the last consecutive champions in 1997 and 1998. Historically, the odds are stacked against Sammy Watkins and the Kansas City Chiefs winning a second straight Super Bowl championship next year.

Like those Patriots, the Chiefs have one of the game’s top quarterbacks in Patrick Mahomes. Mahomes is a far better player at this stage in his career than Tom Brady was in the early 2000s.

Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens are the biggest threat to the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes. Houston will struggle after trading All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins to Arizona.

Barring a devastating injury to Patrick Mahomes, the Chiefs’ season would be considered a disappointment if they’re not at least in the AFC Championship Game for a third straight season. Bringing Sammy Watkins back into the mix is a tremendous boost for the Chiefs’ Super Bowl hopes.