The Bills reportedly might not pick up Sammy Watkin’s fifth-year option.
Would that be a mistake?
The Bills have to make a decision on whether or not to pick up the 5th-year option on wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ rookie contract by May 2. A source familiar with the situation has informed me the team has yet to make that decision and will be discussing it internally over the next couple weeks. Watkins is under contract for one more season for a salary cap hit of $6.343 million. If the team picks up his option, it will cost them roughly $13 million against the cap in 2018. … While exercising the option seems like a slam-dunk by most analysts and observers (and I still believe the Bills will ultimately do it), I’m told the reason the team has yet to decide is because the option is guaranteed against injury. Since the Clemson product entered the league in 2014 he’s had numerous ailments that have kept him off the field. He’s missed 11 games the past two seasons, including eight last year after breaking a bone in his foot and is currently recovering from a second surgery he had in January to repair that foot.
Here’s a sampling of Twitter reaction to that news:
If the #Bills do not pick up Sammy Watkins 5th year option, I am so done with this joke of a Franchise. Cannot ever get out of their own way
— R D III (@CPTBobby) April 16, 2017
Sammy Watkins has had a history of injuries which has effected his production so far but he will thrive if/when he leaves Buffalo.#NFL
— NY2ThaBay (@Ny2ThaBay) April 16, 2017
— Frank Pro (@frankprotwin) April 16, 2017
USA Today’s Robert Quinn says Watkins’ numbers are pretty stellar:
When healthy, Sammy Watkins has proven to be one of the most productive, efficient and dominant wide receivers in the NFL. In 37 career games, he’s recorded 153 receptions for 2,459 yards (16.1 yards-per-catch) and 17 touchdowns. … He has the talent that strikes fear in opposing cornerbacks, and regularly makes big plays when his number is called. 36 of his 153 receptions have gone for 20-plus yards and 13 for at least 40 yards. He has 10 100-yard performances under his belt as well. Considering the fact that Buffalo’s run-oriented offense limits the number of opportunities Watkins has to put up statistics, his efficiency is impressive.
Here are some Watkins highlights from last season:
EndZoneScore.com’s Justin Caba thinks this is a no-brainer for the Bills:
If Buffalo does decide to pick up Watkins’ contract option in 2018, they would be paying him more than double what he will earn in 2017. Injury susceptibility should obviously play a role when deciding a player’s future with a team, but Watkins’ capabilities when healthy are just too much to slip away. Buffalo has until May 2 to make their decision.
Bleacher Report’s Tim Daniels says never underestimate the Bills’ ability to screw up:
It would come as a shock if the Bills didn’t pick up Watkins’ 2018 option since it would create another void on a roster with several to fill already. But poor decisions are a key reason the team owns the league’s longest playoff drought at 17 years.
Regardless of whether Watkins stays in Buffalo, it’s hard to argue he’s panned out like the Bills had hoped. They gave up a lot to trade up to snag him in the 2014 draft. And other receivers picked after him in that draft have been above-average to great players: Mike Evans, Odell Beckham Jr., Kelvin Benjamin, Allen Robinson, Brandin Cooks, Jarvis Landry, Donte Moncrief and John Brown.
Blasting News’ Andrew Granville still thinks the Bills made the right decision in 2014:
When they traded up, the Bills could have also chosen Khalil Mack, who has been a defensive force since entering the league. Watkins hasn’t been the slam dunk that Mack has been, but he hasn’t exactly been a disaster either. The Cleveland Browns drafted Justin Gilbert with the 8th overall pick in the same draft where the Bills took Watkins. Gilbert has been, on all accounts, a complete bust. He is currently a free agent and struggled with the Browns when he was on the roster. With the 19th overall pick that the Browns received from the Bills, they selected Cameron Erving, a center. The Browns did this even though they had Alex Mack on the roster. After Mack left, Erving took over as the starting center. His impact has been nowhere close to the impact Watkins had on the Buffalo Bills. With the fourth round pick received from Buffalo, Cleveland drafted Ibraheim Campbell, a safety who had practically no impact in 2015 with just 16 tackles. His role increased in 2016, as he had 48 tackles. But Campbell has no interceptions, zero passes defensed, and no fumble recoveries.
What do you think? In retrospect, did the Bills make a mistake drafting Watkins?