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The Los Angeles Rams may be better off without Sammy Watkins

What are the outcomes of a much-hyped #1 receiver being asked to be a role player? Joey Aucoin wonders if they’re worth it in the first place.

Los Angeles Rams WR Sammy Watkins scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13
Los Angeles Rams WR Sammy Watkins scores a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals in Week 13
Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Once you take in account what the Los Angeles Rams gave up to have WR Sammy Watkins on their roster, it seems reasonable that they would want to retain his services next year. Watkins’ first year on the team wasn’t as splashy as some expected, but he had his moments with some big plays.

Now on the cusp of becoming an unrestricted free agent, I think the Rams are going to tag Watkins, keep him for another year, and then hope for the best. And honestly, I hope the guy comes back with a vengeance. However, as great as the potential is for Watkins, there has to be a willingness to end the experiment at the first sign of significant tension in the locker room.

Sammy already showed flashes of a disgruntled alpha pass catcher last year, and I feel that it will only get worse once it’s abundantly clear that Sammy Watkins isn’t the true #1 option in the offense. He has been quoted lately saying that he’s confident that he’ll improve next year, but what happens if he has a similar season production-wise on one of the NFL’s best offenses? Is he going to be cool with that?

I guess what I’m really asking is: does Sammy Watkins have the temperament of a role player?

I think Watkins sees himself as a star and he’s just saying the right things right now because that’s the smart play. A guy that feels that he’s open 100% of the time is a mixed bag. Yes, the confidence is great, but also extremely distracting. Rams fans want players that stand up and lead when the team is struggling. What we don’t want is passive-aggressive tweets, bad body language, and half-hearted routes when he knows the ball isn’t going to him.

The reason why this is so complicated because Watkins has the skills to kick serious ass in the NFL. But maybe the Los Angeles Rams aren’t built to support an Alpha #1 receiver under Head Coach Sean McVay. From what 2017 showed, the offense thrives when the focus is spread all over the field. Some days Robert Woods will eat, then it’s Cooper Kupp ’s turn. Or maybe it’s the Todd Gurley show for two games straight. #Wenotme. Neither the New England Patriots or the Philadelphia Eagles had wideouts with more than 1,100 yards receiving. Could that be the recipe for success for the Rams as well? Do you need a wideout to catch 100 balls to be a force in the playoffs?

If Sammy ends up walking this year or the next, I’m not pushing the panic button. As talented as he is, his presence could cause bigger issues in the locker room if things don’t go his way. One needs to look no further than the Ewing Theory which explains the mystery of how teams can find success after losing a star player.

Remember when the Rams lost their star QB in Trent Green in the preseason? There’s always another player ready to stand up.

And someone will be there to step up if Sammy Watkins isn’t a Los Angeles Ram in 2018.