After spending the 2021 season with the Ravens, it’s very clear Sammy Watkins will not be returning in 2022. Let’s make our predictions as to what teams might sign Watkins in Free agency.
Predictions for Sammy Watkins 2022 NFL Free Agency
Let’s start with the obvious. Watkins is going to be signed by someone. The biggest impediment in predicting where he might go is he’s just not an impact player.
Watkins’ best two seasons were his first two in Buffalo. Since then, he hasn’t averaged over 54 receiving yards per game. His receiving yards per year has been declining since 2018. It dropped from 51.9 to 48.1 and 47.1 to 47.1 after Patrick Mahomes spent three years. It dropped to 30 in Baltimore last year.
At 29 years old, the sun is setting on Watkins’ career. He’s certainly physically capable of playing in the NFL for another 3-5 years, but he’s not the caliber of receiver that will continue to have a spot on an NFL roster if he’s not producing.
With that being said, Watkins will still be a brand and will have a job by 2022.
I’m going to be perfectly honest regarding predictions of Watkins’ landing spots. He could sign for almost anyone. Watkins is a rotational WR3/4 at best. He’s a veteran presence and roster depth. This is not a player that’s going to have any tangible impact on a team’s chances of winning games or a championship.
Amari Cooper was recently traded by the Browns to the Browns. They have their WR1. However, they don’t have anything beyond that. The Browns need to improve their WR2. Right now, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Anthony Schwartz are the top candidates following Jarvis Landry’s release.
To strengthen their wide receiver pool, the Browns may consider Watkins as a veteran receiver. Watkins, at the very minimum, is an experienced player who could step in if the younger players are having trouble.
The Browns will likely draft a receiver on Day 2. Watkins could still be a depth player that the Browns sign just in case. The Browns have $13million in salary cap space. I wouldn’t expect Watkins to command much more than $3-5 million on a one-year deal.
Las Vegas Raiders
This feels like something that the Raiders would do. DeSean, 34, was signed to a two-year, $2million contract last season. Jackson was far better than Watkins, and he was there for a longer time. Perhaps the Raiders front office believes that Watkins can be revived in 2014 and 2015.
The Raiders have one the best salary cap situations in all of NFL. They have approximately $25 million of space. It also wouldn’t cost much to sign Watkins.
This team got the best out of Zay Johnson last year, a receiver many thought was useless. Jones put together a great second half of the 2021 season. They might be able to do the same with Watkins.
I would expect Watkins’ one-year contract to be worth $3 million if the Raiders sign him.
Does this make sense? No. Not at all. But that didn’t stop the Texans last year when they signed a medley of replacement-level wide receivers. They signed Chris Conley and Chris Moore as well as Danny Amendola. Watkins feels like the type of receiver they’d sign.
Brandin Cooks is the Texans’ WR1 and Nico Collins, their WR2, are locked in. Everything else is uncertain, except for those two players.
Amendola was awarded a $1.8 million contract last year. With about $5 million in salary cap space, that’s a fine price to put Watkins on the roster as rotational depth.
Watkins will likely choose to play for the team that pays him most or the team that can win the Super Bowl at this stage in his career. He was fortunate enough to be part of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory, so maybe he’s just looking for a payday. Watkins could land in free agency with the Texans.