Green Bay Packers release veteran receiver Sammy Watkins
GREEN BAY – With Christian Watson’s emergence and Romeo Doubs returning from a high-ankle sprain, the Green Bay Packers are shifting focus to their young receivers.
The Packers released veteran Sammy Watkins on Monday before their kickoff against the Los Angeles Rams. In a corresponding move, Green Bay signed running back Patrick Taylor to the 53-man roster from the practice squad.
Watkins was signed this offseason to give a veteran presence, alongside Allen Lazard and Randall Cobb, to a young receiver group. Watson has made a big leap in performance over the past four games, scoring eight touchdowns. Doubs missed those four games after a high-ankle sprain against the Detroit Lions but will return Monday night against the Rams.
Meanwhile, Watkins’ playing time has practically vanished in recent weeks. He had just four snaps against the Philadelphia Eagles and seven against the Chicago Bears. In his first seven games, Watkins hadn’t played fewer than 20 snaps. While his departure doesn’t leave much of a void in the Packers offense, it could open the possibility for seventh-round rookie Samori Toure to have some role.
Toure played 30 snaps over the past four games after flashing some potential earlier this season at Buffalo and Detroit.
Watkins signed a heavily incentivized contract this spring that included built-in payments for catches, yards, touchdowns and snaps. The one-year, $1.85 million contract included a $1.12 million base salary, $330,000 in per-game bonuses ($19,411 per game), and a $50,000 workout bonus.
Only the $350,000 signing bonus was guaranteed.
He made the 53-man roster out of camp, but a hamstring injury Week 2 derailed his season. Watkins had three catches for 93 yards in that first matchup against the Bears, including a 55-yard catch that stood as the longest in this Packers season until Watson’s 58-yard touchdown against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 10.
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Watkins returned from injured reserve after missing four games but never regained traction in the Packers offense. He did not reach 50 yards in a game the rest of this season.
The lowest level for his production-based incentives was $150,000 for 50 catches, $150,000 for 550 yards, $150,000 for seven touchdowns and $150,000 for playing 55% of snaps. Watson finished with 13 catches for 206 yards and no touchdowns. His 279 snaps accounted for 33.45% of the Packers offense.
With Watson’s release, the Packers depth chart is trimmed to five receivers: Watson, Lazard, Doubs, Cobb and Toure. The team also released receiver Amari Rodgers earlier this season.