The Buffalo Bills have until next month to decide on Sammy Watkins’ option for the 2018 season. Coming off an injury-plagued 2016 season that saw him deal with multiple foot issues, it has never been a foregone conclusion that the team would go ahead and pick up said option.
Now, according to Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News, the Bills are unlikely to exercise said option.
“The Buffalo Bills are unlikely to pick up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract for wide receiver Sammy Watkins by the NFL’s May 2 deadline,” Carucci reported Friday evening.”
Considering Buffalo exhausted a ton of capital in trading up for Watkins back in 2014, this is somewhat of a major surprise. Teams don’t usually move on from a player after giving up such a large bounty for him in the recent past.
Though, there’s surely other factors here.
First off, Buffalo is on the verge of cleaning house in the front office. In fact, first-year head coach Sean McDermott is running the team’s war room during the 2017 NFL Draft. Needless to say, this means general manager Doug Whaley will likely be out of a job. If so, McDermott isn’t tied to Watkins in any way.
Secondly, Buffalo selected former East Carolina wide receiver Zay Jones in the second round of the draft on Friday night. He could very well be a replacement for Watkins.
Finally, picking up Watkins’ option for the 2018 season would guarantee him $13.3 million. Coming off a one-year span in which he underwent two foot surgeries, that would have been a major risk.
Watkins will now head into free agency following the 2016 season.