Why Sammy Watkins left Patrick Mahomes, Chiefs to sign with the Ravens

Sammy Watkins will have an early chance for a revenge game in 2021. He will face off against his former team, the Chiefs, in just his second game with the Ravens.

Watkins spent three seasons in Kansas City after signing as a free agent during the 2018 offseason. He inked a $48 million deal to join the Chiefs and was supposed to create a frighteningly fast receiving corps along with Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce.

Instead, Watkins didn’t quite live up to his $16 million per year contract. He was merely a solid tertiary receiving option for Patrick Mahomes despite the quarterback’s great play. Watkins averaged just 43 catches and 538 yards per season with the Chiefs. He scored just eight total TDs and missed 14 games during his time there.

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Nonetheless, Kansas City was interested in bringing Watkins back for the 2021 NFL season. Watkins also seemed interested in returning to the Chiefs because he valued winning more than stats, as he explained before Super Bowl 55.

“I could be on another team, getting 1,000 yards and losing or I could be winning and not have the stats,” Watkins said, per NBC’s Hayley Lewis. “I could say I have two rings… that’s all the matters, being on a championship team.”

Apparently, Watkins believes he can win a ring in Baltimore. He left Kansas City in the offseason to sign a one-year deal with the Ravens, and there were a few reasons why he chose to do that.

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Sammy Watkins explains why he signed with the Ravens

Watkins explained in his introductory videoconference that he signed with the Ravens because of three factors. He is familiar with offensive Greg Roman and pass game specialist Keith Williams, he wants to play with Lamar Jackson and he believes that the Ravens are ready to contend for a Super Bowl.

“I just wanted a new scenery for myself,” Watkins said. “There was one team that stuck out, and it was the Ravens. Lamar Jackson, I heard too many great stories about the team and the history of Baltimore.”

While playing with Jackson and for a contender were nice perks, it seems like Watkins was most excited to work with Roman and Williams. He spoke well of Roman, who was the Bills’ offensive coordinator during Watkins’ lone 1,000-yard season in 2015.

“When I was at Buffalo, I had my best times with him,” Watkins said of Roman. “I can’t complain. Lamar’s going to have fun passing the ball around and making plays.”

Watkins spoke even more glowingly of Williams. He said “some special things” would happen in Baltimore because of Williams’ unique ability to tap into the skill set of his receivers.

“[He knows] the art of running routes, and making it easy on guys to actually get open,” Watkins said. “He can take a guy that runs a 4.8 and make sure he can separate from guys and get open and catch balls. I think that’s the most critical thing with the wide receivers that are going to be in the room. No matter what type of guy you’ve got, stature, speed, he’s going to make sure you [can] be you within the play, but have the ability to get open with whatever route or concepts Greg’s going to call.”

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In Week 1, the returns were good for Watkins. He caught four passes for 96 yards in his Ravens debut. He will continue to be one of the top targets in the team’s offense as long as rookie first-round pick Rashod Bateman is out of action.

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How many teams has Sammy Watkins been on?

The Ravens are the fourth team that Watkins has been on during his eight-year NFL career.

Watkins spent the first three seasons of his career with the Bills. Buffalo traded up to select Watkins No. 4 overall in the 2014 NFL Draft and envisioned he would become a long-term No. 1 wideout. Watkins averaged 62.5 catches and 1,014.5 receiving yards during his first two years in Buffalo before missing half of the 2016 season with a foot injury.

Before the 2017 season, Watkins was traded to the Rams, as the Bills had no designs on bringing Watkins back in free agency during the 2018 offseason. He caught 39 passes for 593 yards and eight touchdowns, the second-highest total of his career, in Los Angeles.

Watkins signed with the Chiefs in 2018. He averaged 43 catches and 538 yards per season in three seasons with the team and was a force during the 2019 postseason. He caught 14 passes for 288 yards and a touchdown. That included five catches for 98 yards during Kansas City’s Super Bowl 54 win. Twelve of Watkins’ catches went for first downs and he averaged 20.6 yards per catch.

Now, Watkins is with the Ravens. The 28-year-old is one of Baltimore’s top-three receiving weapons along with Marquise Brown and Mark Andrews.

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