NFL Insider Predicts Patriots Will Sign Talented Free-Agent on Budget Deal

Getty Sammy Watkins

The New England Patriots can’t afford to come away from this offseason with only one, high-priced free-agent wide receiver. Ideally, they will find that No. 1 guy while also drafting a player who can help in his rookie season, in addition to inking a No. 2 option who is capable of producing at a high level on a prove-it contract.

The player to fill that role could be the Kansas City Chiefs’ Sammy Watkins.

The former No. 4 overall pick is still just 27 years old, and ESPN’s Bill Barnwell has projected Watkins will sign one of those prove-it deals with the Patriots. According to Barnwell, he projects the terms of the deal will be one year for $4.25 million.

The Patriots are expected to have a ton of salary cap room to work with as they try to plug multiple holes on their roster. In another prediction, Barnwell tabbed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Chris Godwin as the potential No. 1 guy on the Patriots’ radar. Barnwell projects the Patriots will sign Godwin for 4 years, $78 million.

According to Over the Cap, the Patriots should have approximately $58.5 million available for free agents, drafted and undrafted rookies, and to potentially re-sign current players. If Barnwell’s predictions are true, the Patriots would be sinking just under $24 million next season into fixing their issues at wide receiver.

Based on the talent deficiency they have at the position, it is difficult to argue with that approach.

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Why Watkins Might Be Available for Cheap

Watkins still possesses the physical ability to be a weapon for any passing attack. In fact, he has flashed some of that talent during the 2020 season, despite being just one cog in a crowded and gifted Chiefs passing game.

In Week 1 vs. the Houston Texans, Watkins had 7 receptions for 82 yards and a TD. He had another 7-reception performance in Week 3 in a win over the Baltimore Ravens. On a team like New England, there is every reason to believe Watkins could produce even more as he should rank higher on the totem pole.

However, the bugaboo with Watkins has always been his durability. In his 7 NFL seasons, Watkins has played in all 16 games just once, and that was his rookie year with the Buffalo Bills. He’s missed 6 or more games 3 times including the 2020 season. With only a single 1,000-yard receiving season to his credit, he will find it hard to get a huge deal on the open market. That’s why Barnwell’s $4.25 million concept sounds accurate.

A Revamped Patriots Wide Receiver Group

If Barnwell is correct, and the Patriots sign Godwin, Watkins, and draft a player like Clemson’s Amari Rodgers in the second or third round, the entire wide receiver room will have seen a major upgrade. We’re looking at a receiving group that goes as followed:

  • Godwin
  • Watkins
  • Jakobi Meyers
  • Rodgers or N’Keal Harry
  • Gunner Olszewski
  • Isaiah Zuber or Christian Wilkerson

I know what you’re thinking, who’s going to throw them the ball? Of course, that is still the most important piece of the Patriots’ retooling, but this group of receivers is a far more attractive bunch for any potential quarterback to have when compared to the 2020 options.


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