Bills were smart to admit Sammy Watkins mistake

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Three years ago, the Bills gave up the ninth overall pick in the draft, another first-round pick, and a fourth-round pick to get receiver Sammy Watkins — at a time when they could have stayed put and gotten Odell Beckham Jr. Now, the Bills have opted not to compound their mistake by potentially making another one, by refusing to pick up the fifth-year option on Watkins’ rookie deal.

It’s a smart move. Given Watkins’ injury history, any condition that would prevent him from passing a physical before the first day of the 2018 league year next March would put the Bills fully on the hook for $13.2 million in 2017. They’ll instead embrace the possibility that Watkins finally will play like they thought he’d play, forcing them to apply the franchise tag next year, at a likely amount in excess of $16 million.

He’s yet to have a season that would make using the franchise tag a no-brainer. In 2015, Watkins racked up 1,049 receiving yards in 13 games, but he followed that by missing half of the season and generated only 430 yards.

Through three seasons, Watkins has fewer than 2,500 receiving yards, 153 catches, and 17 touchdowns. In contrast, Beckham has 288 catches, 4,122 yards, and 35 scores. Likewise, Dolphins receiver Jarvis Landry has 288 catches, for more than 3,000 yards.

So Watkins enters a contract year in Buffalo with every incentive to have the best year of his career. If he does, the Bills surely will revisit their position on him. For now, they’re essentially admitting to the world that they got this one wrong.

45 responses to “Bills were smart to admit Sammy Watkins mistake

  1. no they aren’t. they’re just not guaranteeing his contract to injury when he’s coming off an injury. did sitting tyrod the last game of last year for the same reason get him off the team? you should stick to what you know best florio, stealing other peoples content without crediting them, and shaming your family by trying to rehab a murder, and a woman beater.

  2. The second half of 2015 has been the only time Watkins has been healthy for any extended period of time, but during that period he showed just how good he can be with his numbers during that time largely being 2nd in the league to Antonio Brown. This on a run first team with not exactly an elite passer throwing him the ball. If he can ever get and stay healthy, he could someday be the best WR in the league. However, he’s shown no indication that will actually happen and as such the Bills have this right.

  3. I can’t call it a mistake. Watkins is a HOF talent who just can’t stay healthy. The evaluation wasn’t wrong, unless it was a known fact that he’d stay hurt. There aren’t 3 WRs in the NFL that are better than he is.

  4. irishjugalo says:
    May 2, 2017 5:06 PM
    Canada can have Buffalo.
    No, Buffalo is your problem, not ours.

  5. I remember before the draft Watkins just would.not.shut.up saying he was much better than Beckham and Mike Evans. So much talk and diva-esque bravado. Now he’s nowhere near the level of those two receivers and is on the verge of being a bust.

  6. Smart move. Watkins had his second foot surgery in the span of one year. He may never be a 16 game player…unless you spread that out over 2 or 3 seasons.

  7. Is a guy who wasn’t injury prone in college a mistake though. Also, would have loved to see OBJ in Buffalo with those QBs. That would have went great, lol.

  8. Please stop with the draft hindsight. It’s so easy now to say Beckham would have been the better pick but I don’t think a lot people were saying that at the time. I can come up with a million examples of players who should have been drafted before other players because I have the benefit of hindsight. That doesn’t make me knowledgeable when it comes to football.

  9. Other than injuries, I’m not sure how Watkins can be trashed too badly when he’s never had a good enough QB to show off his abilities.

  10. ODB is overrated. Eli always airs it out, so he makes his wide receivers’ stats look good (tight end has never been part of their game plan). Remember immortal names like Hakeem Nicks, Victor Cruz, the other Steve Smith, Mario Manningham? They all produced big number with Eli Manning. It’s unfair to compare Watkins’ stats to ODB’s when he’s catching passes from Tyrod Taylor (a mobile QB) and draft bust EJ Manuel. Put Watkins with a real QB and he’ll ball out. Landry is an unexplosive move-the-chain possessional receiver. He’s dimes a dozen.

  11. You seem to be implying that teams should have a crystal ball that informs them which players will have injury plagued starts to their careers.

  12. The Bills are basically betting that Watkins will never be the player he once was. So I would imagine the Bills know something about Watkins injury that the rest of us don’t.

  13. Yes, Watkins has been injured. That’s a shame. Because he has shown when healthy he is among the best in the league. I for one, don’t want head case Beckham on my team. Plus Beckham has a QB to throw to him. I don’t believe he is any better than Watkins. Hopefully this season will prove it.

  14. Remember when everyone said the Browns were so dumb for not drafting that guy when they knew Josh Gordon failed his drug test.

    Then remember when the team nearly made the playoffs by drafting Terrence West later and then getting Isaiah Crowell in undrafted free agency resulting in them being 4rth in the league in rushing touchdowns.

    Of course not because that would require knowing the Browns drafted other people not named Johnny Manziel that year which the media doesn’t care about.

  15. joetoronto says:
    May 2, 2017 5:16 PM
    irishjugalo says:
    May 2, 2017 5:06 PM
    Canada can have Buffalo.
    No, Buffalo is your problem, not ours.

    Too bad Joe, considering that would be the ONLY chance Canada would ever have in getting an NFL franchise. The NFL sees Toronto as a minor league city in regards to a franchise.

  16. Sammy- get out your map, you can be in Foxboro in about 7 hours. Say hi to your new teammates who used to be your old teammates.

  17. I don’t think they admit that he’s a mistake as much as they gave themselves flexibility at the end of next season should he have another injury riddled season.

    They can work out a new deal, franchise him, or let him walk.

  18. This sad story illustrates so forcefully the crap-shoot nature of the draft. Giving up a king’s random in future picks to move up to get *that guy* is at best a fool’s errand.

    There’s lots of talent out there. The winners in these deals are the teams that trade down, not up.

  19. joetoronto says:
    May 2, 2017 5:16 PM
    irishjugalo says:
    May 2, 2017 5:06 PM
    Canada can have Buffalo.
    No, Buffalo is your problem, not ours.
    Then why are you obsessed with them then? You post on every Bills thread under 5 ID’s every single day, 24/7. Remember when you said they were moving there every single day when Ralph Wilson died? You need help man, I suggest you get it.

  20. The Bills relied on him too much when healthy since he is the only offensive threat with a mediocre at best QB. Pats will sign him to a 1 year deal where he won’t be the center of attention and will have a bounce back year.

  21. saying he was much better than Beckham and Mike Evans. So much talk and diva-esque bravado. Now he’s nowhere near the level of those two receivers and is on the verge of being a bu

    Technically he’s correct but injuries and qb play have hurt him. When he’s on his game he’s top 5 wr

  22. They also could have taken Mike Evans after moving up. Hind sight is 20/20. So for Evans looks to be the best of that WR class. OBJ is a freak talent but too much of a headcase.

  23. Tom Brady was better than 198 players drafted before him, but it doesn’t mean every team that passed on him (including the Patriots several times) is dumb. It means the draft is a crap shoot.

    I think we can all agree that trading up early in the first round for anyone other than a QB is rarely a good idea, but even with the questionable trade everyone thought the Bills were getting a can’t miss talent at the position. They got that can’t miss talent, but they also got major injury issues that nobody knew about and nobody could see coming. Trading up for a receiver was a mistake, but who actually thought that the Bills were trading up for a player that would disappoint on the field?

  24. Sammy has proven to be elite when healthy. The last 6 games of 2015 Sammy had 35 catches totaling 679 yards, that’s a 19.4 yards per catch average… and he had 6 touchdowns. Unfortunately, Sammy hasn’t proven the ability to stay healthy. Contrary to all the Tyrod haters, I believe he has a QB that can get him the ball, and not to mention a running game to set him up all day long. It’s a smart move by the new GM, I mean HC… No reason to pick up his option. If Sammy can stay healthy all year long and produce like he’s capable, they’ll work out a long term deal or slap ’em with the tag. Either way, Sammy has more motivation for his tank!

  25. I bet he becomes an allpro if he moves out of there and plays on a good offense with a good QB. His talent is undeniable, you cant predict injuries in tbe draft.

  26. Irish,your a typical Irish,river dancing,st Patrick’s day drunken Irish potatoes drinking,Irish drunk like your MOTHER….GO BILLS GO

  27. All this means is contract restructuring. I do not see the Bills letting Watkins go unless he really stinks this year. Nate Peterman and Watkins could be a great match in the future.

  28. he’s not getting a long term deal for suddenly staying healthy in a contract year.

    the sanchize tag is the best he can hope for.

  29. So when he gets released by Buffalo and New England picks him up, he will become a Star?

    I think that is what is going to happen.

  30. Hard to say it’s a mistake when it’s just injury issues. Dude can play when he’s out there. And give him Eli manning and his stats would be right there with Beckham.

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