Packers Signing Ex-Chiefs Veteran WR to 1-Year Deal: Report

Watkins Packers Visit

Getty Sammy Watkins #14 of the Kansas City Chiefs catches a 60 yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium on January 19, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri

The Green Bay Packers have finally landed a veteran wide receiver for Aaron Rodgers’ passing arsenal next season.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Packers are signing former Kansas City Chiefs and Baltimore Ravens deep-threat receiver Sammy Watkins to a one-year deal worth up to $4 million after hosting the 28-year-old free agent for a visit on Thursday, April 14.

Watkins is coming off a disappointing season with the Ravens that saw him finish with career-low numbers in receptions (27), receiving yards (394) and touchdowns (one), but he is also a Super Bowl-winning receiver with eight seasons of NFL experience on his resume who can help re-introduce some speed into the Packers’ receiving room after the departure of Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling this offseason.

The biggest trouble for Watkins has been staying on the field with his 2014 rookie season standing as the only year in which he has played every regular-season game. He was sidelined for four games in 2021, three due to injuries, and missed a combined 14 games over his three seasons playing with Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. As a result, it is possible the Packers will include some form of incentive in Watkins’ new contract.

The Packers’ primary receiving corps now consists of Sammy Watkins, Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb and Amari Rodgers for next season, but it is still extremely likely the team will look to add at least one more receiver in the upcoming 2022 NFL draft. The only other depth pieces behind their core four wideouts are Juwann Winfree, Malik Taylor Chris Blair and Rico Gafford — which is hardly a befitting set of wideouts for a four-time NFL MVP.

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Watkins Follows Packers’ Familiar Signing Pattern

Watkins might not seem like the most glamorous addition for fans who have heard names like Odell Beckham Jr., Jarvis Landry, Will Fuller V and Julio Jones tossed around as possible free-agent targets for the Packers this offseason, but there is no denying he fits the team’s general profile for affordable veteran signings.

The Packers haven’t truly swung big on outside free agents since adding Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner during the 2019 offseason. While they have re-invested in their own premium players — Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, De’Vondre Campbell, Rasul Douglas — they have preferred to target guys on the open market who are flying under the radar due to recent injury or production issues and carry a much lower signing risk. Campbell and Douglas are both examples of what can happen when that approach ends in success.

In Watkins’ case, the upside of his addition is that he could help prevent the Packers offense from experiencing a significant dropoff without Adams or Valdes-Scantling in 2022. He isn’t nearly as gifted as a two-time All-Pro like Adams or as young as the blazing-fast MVS, but he has put up quality production over his eight seasons in the league — averaging 14.5 yards per catch on 348 career receptions — and brings a comparable speed element as someone who, at 20 years old, clocked a 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash during his NFL Combine workout.

The real question will be Watkins’ health. He has suffered injuries to his thigh, calf, hamstring, head, groin, shoulder and foot since the start of the 2018 season and has missed a combined 18 games during that span. It could be negligible if the Packers can keep him available and get quality production out of him, but it could just as easily backfire on them if his injury trends continue.

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