What a strange career it has been for Sammy Watkins. Is this finally the end of it? The Green Bay Packers released Watkins on Monday, ending a nine-game opportunity to become Aaron Rodgers’ number one receiver in the wake of Davante Adams going to Las Vegas. As you can guess, Watkins as a number one receiver never materialized in Green Bay, just as it never materialized anywhere else in his career.
But to his credit, Watkins outlasted many other NFL Draft busts of similar caliber.
Since 2020 Sammy Watkins has an RTM Overall Score of 28.— Seth Walder (@SethWalder) December 19, 2022
In the bottom 10 of WR/TEs. pic.twitter.com/VNalkJxDJ5
The fourth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins was notably selected ahead of Mike Evans and Odell Beckham, Jr. and Brandin Cooks because that’s just how physically talented he is. The 6’1, 211 lbs receiver out of Clemson ran a 4.43 40-yard dash at the combine with a 6.95 in the three-cone. But he also caught 240 passes for 3,391 yards and 27 touchdowns in 36 games at Clemson with Tajh Boyd—not Deshaun Watson or Trevor Lawrence—as his quarterback.
Watkins, not DeAndre Hopkins or Mike Williams or Hunter Renfrow, is Clemson’s all-time leading receiver. Watkins and Hopkins were teammates for two seasons and again, Watkins was the better NFL prospect of the two.
Off to a promising career start in Buffalo, Watkins had 982 yards as a rookie on the Bills in 2014, then 1,047 yards in only 13 games in year two, which is when Rex Ryan took over as head coach and Tyrod Taylor replaced Kyle Orton at quarterback. But Watkins missed half of the 2016 season and then was traded to the Los Angeles Rams for a second round pick (E.J. Gaines and a sixth was also exchanged).
Though Watkins caught eight touchdowns in 15 games, the underwhelming results led to a trade for Cooks and Watkins became a free agent, electing to join Patrick Mahomes on the Chiefs. That could have made Watkins into a superstar, but instead the number one receiver in Kansas City became Tyreek Hill. Watkins helped the Chiefs win the Super Bowl in 2019, gaining 288 yards in three playoff games, but that would be the peak of his career.
He has spent the last three seasons with the Chiefs, Ravens, and now the Packers, and at 29, there may be no more road left for Watkins. Would a reunion with McVay be in order?