On Friday morning, the Kansas City Chiefs retained an offensive contributor from their 2022 championship team. Wide receiver Justin Watson will return to the club on a two-year contract, per his agency, JL Sports. ESPN’s Adam Schefter added the deal is worth up to $6 million and includes $1.4 million guaranteed.
Watson, 27, came to Kansas City last offseason after spending the first four years of his career with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The 6-foot-2, 215-pound receiver first entered the league as a fifth-round selection made by the Bucs.
Watson had to earn his way onto last year’s team in a crowded wide receiver room, and it helped that he caught the attention of quarterback Patrick Mahomes early on in the process. Mahomes famously contacted general manager Brett Veach after throwing to him down in his home state of Texas, and the depth receiver later earned a mention on “Good Morning Football.”
Watson finished his 2022 season with 15 receptions for 315 yards and two touchdowns and added three playoff catches, including two in the Super Bowl. With rookie Skyy Moore needing a midseason break at the punt returner position, Watson compiled five returns for 39 yards.
Under Veach over his tenure as GM, Kansas City has done a nice job filling needs before the NFL Draft, providing them the best opportunity to go with the best player available. Watson is back in the mix in a room that now includes Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Kadarius Toney, Moore, Richie James, Justyn Ross, Ihmir Smith-Marsette and Cornell Powell, among others.
Kansas City is also likely to take a receiver in the NFL Draft, making for an intriguing competition at training camp in St. Joseph. Last year, the Chiefs kept five wide receivers, including Watson, at the 53-man roster cutdown.
With Watson’s signing, the Chiefs currently have 64 players under contract for 2023. We estimate that the team has between $2.7 million and $4.9 million in salary-cap space — probably close to $4.7 million.