Packers Cut Ex-Bills WR, Former No. 4 Overall Pick Hours Before Game

Sammy Watkins

Getty Sammy Watkins #11 of the Green Bay Packers runs with the ball during the first quarter in the game against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field on September 18, 2022.

Sammy Watkins’ tenure with the Green Bay Packers came to an abrupt end on Monday afternoon.

The former Buffalo Bills wide receiver was released just hours before his team’s Monday Night Football game against the Los Angeles Rams. Watkins, the former No. 4 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, is now gone from his fifth team over an eight-year NFL career that has been derailed by injuries and inconsistent play.

Packers Cut Watkins Loose

As ESPN’s Rob Demovsky reported, the Packers released Watkins on December 19 to make way for rookie receiver Romeo Doubs to return from an ankle injury and move into a more significant role.

“The Packers want to see what Doubs and fellow rookie Christian Watson can do together. As a tandem, they’ve been on the field together for only 52 snaps this season. Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard also are healthy,” Demovsky wrote.

Watkins failed to find a major role in the Packers’ passing game this season, making just 13 receptions for 206 total yards and no touchdowns. He joined Green Bay last offseason on a one-year, $1.85 million deal with the hope of filling some of the void left by the departure of Davante Adams. But as the Packers struggled on offense, they turned more to the rookies Doubs and Watson as weapons for quarterback Aaron Rodgers while Watkins remained lower on the depth chart.

Watkins, who struggled with injuries throughout his career, spent time on injured reserve this season after suffering a hamstring injury.

With his release, Watkins will become a free agent and is expected to generate some interest. Bleacher Report’s Doug Rush speculated that the New York Giants could look into signing Watkins in a move that would bolster their wide receiving corps.

Watkins Faced Former Team

Watkins came to Buffalo in 2014 with high expectations, as the Bills traded up to the No. 4 overall pick to land him. But he had just one season with more than 1,000 yards in Buffalo, losing long stretches due to injury and watching other receivers from his draft class — including Odell Beckham Jr. and Mike Evans — surpass him in production.

The Bills traded Watkins in 2017 as part of an organizational rebuild under new head coach Sean McDermott and general manager Brandon Beane.

Watkins had the chance to face his former team this season when the Packers traveled to Buffalo for a Sunday Night Football game. Before the October 30 game, Watkins told reporters that he was excited to get back to Buffalo.

“Rough Buff! I had some of my best times there,” Watkins said on October 26. “People don’t know that was my childhood team and it still is my team. So, to play for an organization that I love, I liked growing up as a kid is definitely a blessing. And I have some of my best memories. My first child was [born] there. … A lot of replaying all the great times I had with the coaches and the team.”

The return to Buffalo didn’t go so well for the Packers, with the Bills winning 27-17 and Watkins making one reception for three yards.