April 11, 2021

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Ravens’ Sammy Watkins explains the decision to leave Chiefs despite Super Bowl success

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Sammy Watkins was a vital cog on the Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl championship roster, and was one of the top pass catchers for Patrick Mahomes during his three-year stay with the franchise. Watkins had excellent memories with Kansas City, but felt it was time to move on to the next chapter of his football career. 

Free agency was enough to intrigue Watkins, who was just ready to embark on a new journey with the Baltimore Ravens. 

“I had my fun there. It was an amazing, amazing time [and] a great organization. I just wanted a new scenery for myself,” Watkins said on a conference call with reporters Monday. “There was one team that stuck out, and it was the Ravens and Lamar Jackson. I heard too many great stories about just the team and the history of Baltimore. But I think when they hired one of my favorite guys that I train with in the offseason, [pass game specialist] Keith Williams, and of course [offensive coordinator] Greg [Roman], the offensive coordinator who I worked early in my career at Buffalo, it was like, ‘Man, this will be a good fit.’ 

“They have a great team, and I think that they’re trying to get over that hump. I think it’s a great matchup for me and what I want to basically do, as far as my career, and what type of team I want to play for.”

The familiarity with the coaching staff was enough to entice Watkins to choose the Ravens over other suitors, specifically his success with Roman as the play caller. Watkins had his best season with Roman as offensive coordinator in 2015, catching 60 passes for 1,047 yards and nine touchdowns (averaging 17.5 yards per catch). Watkins hasn’t come close to reaching those receiving yards and yards per catch numbers since. 

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“I know that he’s going to do a [good] job of getting the ball not only in my hands, [but in the hands of] ‘Hollywood’ [Marquise Brown], whatever receivers that we draft, or whatever receiver that is there,” Watkins said. “And Lamar [Jackson] is going to have fun throwing the ball around, passing and just making plays. I think that’s the most critical thing.”

Watkins caught 129 passes for 1,613 yards and eight touchdowns in 34 games with the Chiefs, the veteran leader of a wide receiver group that included Tyreek Hill, Mecole Hardman, and Demarcus Robinson. Watkins could have decided to return to Kansas City and tried to win his second Super Bowl title in three years, but he wanted a new challenge. 

The hourglass reached its end in Kansas City. Watkins wanted to be a veteran leader — and the opportunity to be a No. 1 wide receiver — somewhere else. 

“I had my best times there, and I really enjoyed my time,” Watkins said. “I think my time was up; I just wanted to be somewhere different. I think the best place to be, and to be around some younger guys and another MVP quarterback that’s really good. … You scout around the league like, ‘Where do I fit in?’ Once I took my visit, right away I knew I fit in at the Baltimore Ravens. 

“Just the vibes, the energy [and] the coaches were amazing, and I just wanted to. … You go through this being in the league for seven years, and you just want to make it right and be somewhere where you can probably spend the next five or six years if everything goes well. The organization is top five (in football), and I just wanted to be somewhere where it’s going to be fun at.”

Jeff Kerr
2021-04-06 14:04:58

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