Sammy Watkins’ return gives Chiefs important full band reunion

Sammy Watkins of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Sammy Watkins of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

The importance of bringing back Sammy Watkins in such a limited offseason is exactly what the Kansas City Chiefs needed to do to repeat.

During any other offseason, the Kansas City Chiefs might have taken a different approach.

Sure, on the surface, the Chiefs said all the right things and assumed all the right postures. “Yes, they wanted Chris Jones back.” “Yes, they wanted Sammy Watkins back.” “Yes, each player is so valuable.” The press quotes flowed from every mouth at Arrowhead.

In an offseason like this, however, the Chiefs knew they needed to back up those words by actually retaining those same players.

That’s not to say that Jones is officially back or that the Chiefs wouldn’t have brought them back anyway, but this particular offseason—this quarantined, COVID-19 filled offseason—has changed the game for every franchise.

A cloud hangs over every part of the NFL offseason despite the league’s insistence on doing business as normal (as possible). Free agent deals have been reached, but we’ve not yet seem the first signs of some of those same deals falling apart when teams can actually perform physicals on those same players. Some of these exciting headlines in March will make for disappointing exits in June or July.

The pre-draft process has been clouded even more. Pro Days were cancelled for weeks. Players who refused to run or work out at the NFL Combine are now frustrated at their inability to showcase what they can do. Interviews have taken place online as personal visits are stalled. Medical issues on dozens of NFL hopefuls cannot be personally checked by the teams tasked with selecting among them, which will greatly affect how this draft class works out.

Not only is every aspect of player acquisition affected by the coronavirus and measures taken to stave off its spread. Offseason workouts will be different, too. Offseason training activities are unlikely to happen. Rookies won’t be getting important reps in minicamps or with their new coaches in new facilities meeting new teammates. New coaches aren’t able to implement their changes until very late in the calendar.

At this point, the NFL is calling for the season to start on time. If they stick to that plan or even something slightly delayed, it puts teams with continuity at a great advantage. The players on any Super Bowl winner will often point back to the previous offseason and state something like, “It all began then.” It’s the establishment of a mindset and culture. It’s the familiarity with what a head coach is trying to achieve. It’s the growth among players in expectation and communication.

For a team like the Chiefs, the ability to retain Watkins and (hopefully) Jones and strike up the band one more time with the same chemistry and familiarity as before is the perfect approach to a frustrating offseason. For the Chiefs, there are precious few players to bring on board. Few rookies are likely going to be tasked with a heavy load—unless they have proven they can handle it.

The Chiefs already had a group of players talented enough together to win the Super Bowl, and now when the rest of the league will be one or more steps behind the more stable franchises, the Chiefs have gone all in with the same pack. The band was already young and impressive, but now they’ve toured the globe, topped the charts, and know what it takes to do it all again.

It’s taken some financial constraints and kept the Chiefs from chasing other big money additions, but in the end, bringing back as much of the band as possible is likely going to be another masterstroke from a general manager who surveyed the chaos and knew how to respond.

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