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Chiefs will speak with Sammy Watkins’ reps during NFL Combine

Club will meet with pending FAs, build toward 2020
49ers Chiefs Super Bowl Football
Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-25 18:33:40-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Chris Jones isn’t the only veteran player whose representatives the Chiefs plan to meet with this week during the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.

Jones, a Pro Bowl defensive tackle, is a free agent, so Kansas City needs to decide whether to re-sign Jones, and for how much, or whether to use the franchise tag.

But some decisions are a bit more complicated.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is one such case.

Watkins, a former No. 4 overall pick, is set to count $21 million against the Chiefs’ salary cap in 2020, according to Over the Cap.

That’s way too much for a receiver who has averaged 46 catches for 596 yards with three touchdowns during the first two seasons of a three-year, $48-million deal.

If the Chiefs can rework the final year of the deal, which may include an extension to make the dollars work, Watkins will be gone — a move that would saddle Kansas City with $7 million in dead cap space, but free up $14 million for other players.

General Manager Brett Vech said he hopes a compromise can be struck.

“Sammy’s a guy that, like Chris, that we’re going to have dialogue with this week,” Veach said. “There’s certainly different options and different scenarios that could play out. But he’s a guy that we do want back.”

Veach will meet with and evaluate prospects for the 2020 NFL Draft this week, but the Chiefs also have meetings stacked with the agents for Jones and Watkins as well as other pending free agents, like cornerback Bashaud Breeland.

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“It’s a busy week, but that’s what makes it fun ...,” Veach said. “These are good problems to have, because you win a Super Bowl you obviously have a lot of good players and they make a lot of money. But Sammy’s a guy that, as you mentioned, he’s been critical to our playoff success.”

Watkins has missed eight games in two seasons with Kansas City, but he has averaged nearly five receptions and 93 yards in five playoff games in 2018 and 2019 for the Chiefs.

“We’ll sit down and talk about the landscape of where we are and what would make sense to us and how we can make this work,” Veach said.

The presence of Mecole Hardman Jr. may factor into that decision. A second-round pick last season, Hardman ascended throughout his rookie season and earned the trust of the Chiefs’ offensive staff.

“We look at him as a starter,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “I feel very comfortable with him and I know he’s going to continue to grow. He’s a real smart kid and likes to play the game. Tyreek (Hill’s) been great for him, too.”