The Buffalo Bills have admitted a major mistake, one that was made by the previous regime. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Bills will not pick up the fifth-year option on wide receiver Sammy Watkins’ rookie contract.
Bills are not picking up WR Sammy Watkins' fifth-year option, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) May 2, 2017
This will clear the way for the often-injured Watkins to become a free agent following the 2017 season.
There had been some question as to whether Watkins would see the final year of his rookie deal exercised by the team. But once Buffalo fired general manager Doug Whaley following the 2017 NFL Draft, there was nothing linking the current decision makers to Watkins.
The No. 4 overall pick back in 2014, Watkins has had two foot surgeries over the past year-plus. He’s also coming off a 2016 campaign that saw him record just 28 receptions for 430 yards while missing eight games to injury.
If the Bills had decided to pick up Watkins’ option for the 2018 season, it would have guaranteed him another $13.3 million. That’s obviously a risk the team wasn’t willing to take.
Buffalo exhausted a first and fourth-round pick to move up from No. 9 to the fourth selection back in 2014 to select Watkins. Even if the team’s current brass has no ties to that decision, declining his option has to be a bitter pill to swallow.