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Arrowheadlines: Sammy Watkins named an offensive free agent Chiefs ‘must keep’

Chiefs headlines for Friday, February 12

NFL: New England Patriots at Kansas City Chiefs Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The latest

2021 NFL free agency: One offensive free agent each AFC playoff team must keep | NFL.com

Sammy Watkins

WR

Watkins is an under-the-radar force in the Chiefs’ offense. With Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill demanding all of the attention, we saw just how much the Chiefs struggled in Super Bowl LV without a healthy Watkins on the field. Sure, he was out there (one catch on one target for 13 yards), but his movement was hampered by a calf injury that kept him sidelined for more than a month leading up to Super Sunday. The Chiefs’ beat-up offensive line undoubtedly played a role in the loss, but I believe Watkins’ health did, too. When he’s 100 percent, or close to it, Watkins is a mismatch advantage for Kansas City — often lining up against the opponent’s third-best cover guy. After taking a pay cut to remain with the Chiefs last offseason, I’d venture to say that offer might once again be on the table.

Bold NFL offseason predictions for all 32 teams: Trades for Deshaun Watson, Sam Darnold, Carson Wentz, more | ESPN

Kansas City Chiefs

The Chiefs will find a way to re-sign wide receiver Sammy Watkins despite a tight salary-cap situation.

The Chiefs fought hard to get Watkins in 2018, when they signed him as a free agent, and fought hard to keep him last year on a restructured contract. Watkins is still only 27 and the Chiefs haven’t made it a habit to move on from key players when they’re at such a young age. — Adam Teicher

QB Index: Ranking the 59 starting quarterbacks of the 2020 NFL season | NFL.com

3 - Patrick Mahomes

Kansas City Chiefs · Year 4

Individual Rank: Bhanpuri: 3 | Blair: 2 | Filice: 3 | Parr: 2

2020 stats: 18 games | 66.1 pct | 5,590 pass yds | 7.9 ypa | 42 pass TD | 8 INT | 360 rush yds | 3 rush TD | 2 fumbles lost

Bhanpuri: With a healthier offensive line (and toe), Patrick Mahomes might’ve leapt all the way to No. 1 on this list. The 25-year-old was superb again in 2020; though, his most memorable pass of the season might end up being one he didn’t even complete. (C’mon, Darrel Williams!)

What happens to Super Bowl 55 gear made for Kansas City Chiefs after they lost? | USA Today

Aside from the gear the players and coaches get after the game, the NFL produces thousands of items to be sold at the site of the Super Bowl, as well as online. Shirts, hats and sweatshirts from the conference championships and the Super Bowl are among some of the gear that gets donated — and this year, masks for protection from the coronavirus will be included in packages, said Good360 Chief Development Officer and Chief Marketing Officer Shari Johnson.

Johnson said the organization doesn’t like to reveal how much merchandise is donated so people from the United States don’t try to look for them, but “each year, we get thousands of items.”

The NFL notifies Good360 a week after the Super Bowl about the products that are available to be donated, then reaches out to their nonprofit partners to see which products are needed the most in certain areas.

Both organizations come up with a list of countries where gear can be donated, which Johnson said includes places such as Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Non-profit organizations that receive the gear have to submit documents to Good360 on how the gear will be distributed.

“That’s really important for us, that we make sure that we align where the products are going based on need, and not just not just sending them blindly into a region where they may not be needed,” Johnson said.

2021 NFL Mock Draft: Eagles take a QB after trading Carson Wentz to Colts | CBS Sports

Jalen Mayfield OL

Kansas City

Jalen Mayfield has played tackle for the Wolverines but he is built like an interior offensive lineman. Kansas City’s offensive line was a big issue in the Super Bowl and, I realize that a healthy Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz as well as the return of Laurent Duvernay-Tardif will help, but the image of Patrick Mahomes limping around in the playoffs should be stamped in the mind of decision makers.

Around the NFL

Seahawks receiving more calls on Russell Wilson after public comments | NFL.com

The Seahawks have received calls at an increasing rate in recent days on Wilson, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero and Mike Garafolo reported. It’s a natural outcome when a star player makes his displeasure even somewhat public, but it’s additionally interesting because of where Wilson stands within the organization.

He’s entering the third year of a five-year contract that pays him an average of $35 million per year, includes a $32 million cap number in 2021, and a no-trade clause. If Seattle was interested in moving him, it would have to first get Wilson’s approval on the destination.

Meanwhile, Wilson has been involved on organizational decisions, having “a big voice in the hiring of new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron,” per Pelissero. Wilson also pushed for the Seahawks to add Antonio Brown, Pelissero reported, before Brown ultimately landed with the Buccaneers.

Denver Broncos release CB A.J. Bouye one year after trade | ESPN

The 29-year-old will still be suspended for the first two games of the 2021 season.

The move will free up $11.7 million against the Broncos’ salary cap and the team will now have just under $31 million worth of salary-cap space overall as they begin to work through their offseason plan.

More Matthew Stafford on trade: ‘I wanted to shoot my shot’ | Pride of Detroit (Lions SB Nation site)

“It was one of those things where, you know, we were hoping that, golly, let’s go, I hope this thing takes off and we play great. But if it doesn’t, you just knew what was going to happen. They were going to tear it down and rebuild,” Stafford said. “And anytime you switch GMs and a head coach, you know that they’re going to want to bring their own people in, and that’s going to take time. And I, frankly, didn’t feel like I was the appropriate person to oversee that time.”

And so as previously reported, Stafford approached the Detroit Lions shortly after the 2020 season ended, as the Lions were in the middle of their coaching and general manager searches, and requested a trade. Stafford texted his wife before the meeting, filled with anxiety for the “toughest decision of his life.” But he was shocked by how open and willing the Lions were to accomodate his request.

“It was a tough conversation, probably the hardest one I’ve ever had, but one that I walked out of, frankly, blown away with their support and their understanding,” Stafford said. “The respect. I mean, it was pretty incredible.”

After magical return to Washington Football Team, Alex Smith’s future uncertain | ESPN

Retires from the NFL

It’s hard to imagine Smith choosing this route. Late in the season, he said he felt himself getting stronger and moving better — then he got hurt. But the progress was encouraging. Then, during an interview with “60 Minutes” in January, Smith said, “This year has only emboldened for me that I can play at this level.”

Finally, later on in January in an appearance on the “Rachael Ray Show,” Smith said, “I just feel like I continued to get stronger and stronger and better and better. I still feel like I’m kind of a kid right now headed into the offseason. I’m excited for this offseason to see what I can go do — football and everything else. ... I had such an amazing time playing. I felt so good out there. It was crazy after that first game how comfortable I felt back out on the field.”

This does not sound like a player who is ready to retire.

In case you missed it on Arrowhead Pride

The top 5 2021 offseason priorities for the Kansas City Chiefs

1) Protect Patrick Mahomes.

When you have the greatest player in the game, protecting him with an offensive line that makes him feel comfortable executing the offense should always be a top priority. After watching the complete breakdown in protection in the Super Bowl, and given the significant injuries at the offensive tackle position, the situation looks pretty dire. The cupboards aren’t bare, with some returning players (like LDT and Lucas Niang) who might be able to contribute. But, assembling a deeper offensive line with some top-end starters —inside and out—has to be the top priority. They could use pick 31 and/or 63 on any of the three offensive line positions, and it would be seen as a smart move. They could also look to free agency for immediate contributors. To free up resources, they’ll have big decisions to make regarding Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz, and to a lesser extent, Austin Reiter. We could see a very different offensive line unit by the season opener.

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