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Bills decline to pick up 5th-year option on Watkins contract

03 May 2017

The Buffalo Bills made a controversial decision Tuesday when they officially decided not to pick up wide receiver Sammy Watkins' fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

Now, in a flawless world, Watkins would come back healthy, be really happy in Buffalo, and then sign a long-term extension so that none of this actually matters.

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McDermott said he had "good conversations" with Watkins in discussing the reasoning behind the decision. "There is no question Sammy is a very good football player and has worked hard during his rehab this offseason. We look forward to seeing a healthy Sammy Watkins on the field in 2017". Instead, the Bill will let Watkins test free agency in 2018 rather than exercising the $13.3 million injury guarantee that comes with his option. His appeal to clubs will likely have a lot to do with how his surgically-repaired foot holds up this year, as he has missed 11 games over his last last two campaigns because of it. The receiver is on schedule to be cleared for the start of training camp in late July. Watkins played in just eight games in 2016 after missing three in 2015. Had the team exercised his option, Watkins would have been scheduled to earn $13.258 million in 2018.

Whaley drew criticism for giving up too much in the trade with Cleveland in a draft class that produced a bounty of top-flight receivers, including Odell Beckham Jr., Mike Evans, Kelvin Benjamin and Jarvis Landry.

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Through three seasons, Watkins has fewer than 2,500 receiving yards, 153 catches, and 17 touchdowns.

Sammy Watkins will head into the final year of his rookie contract in Buffalo with a cloud of uncertainty swirling overhead. If the Bills allow Watkins to walk next spring, they could turn to 2017 second-round pick Zay Jones as their No. 1 receiver and potentially gain a high compensatory draft pick in 2019 (third or fourth round) for allowing Watkins to sign with another team.

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The Bills also claimed cornerback Charles James off waivers, who spent his collegiate career at Charleston Southern from 2009-12.

Bills decline to pick up 5th-year option on Watkins contract