We speculated at this point last year that the Chiefs were likely going to have to move on from the sheer enormity of Sammy Watkins contract. Then we were all promptly reminded just how important his presence can be when the Chiefs offense faces the league’s toughest defenses (and best defensive minds).
When defenses key in on Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, figuring out ways to stay overly physical with each (or even to double team them), the Chiefs ability to lean on Sammy Watkins as another high-ceiling physical target was too much for opponents to handle. The Chiefs responded in kind with an offer to restructure Watkins’ contract, a deal that kept him paid quite well while giving K.C. at least some breathing room given other financial obligations.
Will both sides find middle ground once again? It’s hard to see it happening, but we thought the same thing last year. What we do know is that few players on the Chiefs have as much to gain in the coming weeks as Watkins, who will be returning to the field in Week 12 (assumedly) for the first time since Week 5 after suffering a hamstring injury that has taken longer than expected to heal.
The final stat line on 2020 isn’t likely to look all that great for Watkins, but what he needs to show is that he can once again step up and carry this offense when asked against the best teams in the league. That means showing up well down the stretch in tough remaining regular season opponents like New Orleans and Miami (and even Tampa Bay this Sunday) along with the looming postseason battles.
Last year, Watkins had 302 yards from scrimmage in three postseason games, leaving no doubt that the Chiefs don’t lift the Lombardi without him. If he does it again, some team is going to reward him well next offseason.