The Buffalo Bills have until May 2 to decide if they want to pick up the fifth-year option on Sammy Watkins’ rookie contract, but are reportedly hesitant because of the receivers struggles staying on the field.
A source familiar with the situation told Buffalo WGR 550 that the Bills are “still deciding” on Watkins’ fifth year team option that would keep him on their roster through the 2018 season.
Watkins, 23, is due $3.1 million next season. He has played 21 of 32 games during the last two seasons and has had surgery twice on the same foot. The No. 4 pick in the 2014 NFL Draft is playing on a four-year, $19.9 million contract that is fully guaranteed.
Watkins’ option is guaranteed against injury, leading WGR 550 to report that the Bills will likely pick up the cash. The Clemson product’s last surgery came in January.
If Watson has a productive year and remains somewhat healthy, the Bills could put the franchise tag on him next season before free agency. That price tag would likely be about $16.5 million.
The Bills could also decline Watkins’ 2018 option and allow his contract to expire. That move would allow the franchise to try to work out a new deal at a lower rate.
“I had a chance to sit down with Sammy the other day and I was impressed,” Bills coach Sean McDermott said in March. “He’s on schedule with his rehab. No setbacks. He’s fired up about this season. What a dynamic receiver. Then you look at what we were able to do with free agency in adding players to that position group…that’s going to be a fun group to watch throughout really the whole offseason and preseason.”
He is expected to be ready for training camp.
Watkins had 28 receptions for 430 yards and two touchdowns last season in eight games. He had 60 catches for 1,047 yards and nine scores in 2015. Watson scored six times during his 2014 rookie campaign.