The New York Giants are set to embark on their most important offseason in recent memory. The decisions made by general manager Dave Gettleman this spring will be critical in determining whether Big Blue can continue confidently on their current path, or if they’ll have to press the reset button once again. With that in mind, let’s examine the potential free agents that could propel this team to playoff contention.
Next up, let’s consider Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
Watkins, a seven-year NFL veteran, played three seasons for the Buffalo Bills, three for Kansas City, and one with the Los Angeles Rams sandwiched in between. Drafted fourth overall in 2014, the Clemson product hasn’t quite lived up to his top-five billing. Watkins’ best season came in 2015 with Buffalo, when he racked up 1047 receiving yards, nine touchdowns, and 17.5 yards per catch. His production has steadily declined since then, however, sinking all the way to 11.4 yards per catch and two touchdowns last season.
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Coupled with Watkins’ drop in production has been a frustrating proneness for injuries. He hasn’t played a full 16 games since his rookie year, and has missed a combined 26 games due to injury over the last six seasons. Watkins remains a solid complementary receiver when on the field. His career averages of 54.2 yards per game and 14.5 yards per catch typify a dangerous, if unreliable, second option.
Watkins would certainly improve New York’s offense as a proven, productive outside receiver. At 6’1 and 211 pounds, he’s not quite the big-bodied “X” receiver Big Blue’s offense craves. Watkins’ calling card is his ability to make big plays down the field with speed. The Giants already have a player of that ilk in Darius Slayton, so pairing him with Watkins would create some redundancy. Most of Big Blue’s current skill players have an injury history to some extent. Watkins would be yet another playmaker with durability concerns. Again, New York needs offensive playmakers wherever they can find them, but Watkins is far from an ideal fit.
Spotrac projects Watkins’ annual average salary to be $10.6 million. That sounds about right for a receiver still in his twenties with his draft pedigree and resume. If the Giants paid him, they could make a couple other mid-level signings, but he would likely represent their biggest free-agency splurge.
Should the Giants be Interested?
Probably not. Watkins is in that category of free-agent wideouts that aren’t good enough to be the true top receiver New York needs, but expensive enough for the Giants to label him as such. Watkins is best suited in a complementary role at this point in his career, but Slayton and Sterling Shepard are already New York’s supporting players. Big Blue needs a leading man at wide receiver, and Watkins just doesn’t fit the bill.