What to expect from Sammy Watkins in his Ravens return

Sammy Watkins. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
Sammy Watkins. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

The Baltimore Ravens recently made another middling change to their wide receiver unit by claiming Sammy Watkins off waivers. Will Watkins’ second run in Baltimore be better than his first?

The prodigal son returns, only Watkins wasn’t very good for the Ravens back in 2021 and he likely won’t improve much this time around.

To cut to the point: Keep expectations to the bare minimum.

Watkins, who has just joined the worst wide receiver unit in the league, probably won’t face stiff competition for a starting spot and could even be considered one of the better options of the lot. On the active roster, the Ravens have Demarcus Robinson, DeSean Jackson, and James Proche, and Robinson is the only one making a weekly impact in the passing attack.

On the practice squad, the Ravens have Andy Isabella, Shemar Bridges, Binjimen Victor, and newly added Bengals wideout Michael Thomas.

Following Devin Duvernay’s injury, it’s slim pickings in the wide receiver corps in Baltimore, and Watkins has a fairly clear path to take Duvernay’s role almost immediately. The only caveat, of course, is Watkins must stay healthy.

A hamstring injury shortened his already brief time in Green Bay as Watkins played nine games for the Packers this season. He recorded 13 catches for 206 yards and zero touchdowns; almost all of his production came during the first three games of the season.

In his 2021 campaign in Baltimore, Watkins’ statline doesn’t read much better: Watkins played 14 games and recorded 27 catches for 394 yards and a touchdown. He made his share of clutch catches to help extend key drives, but his shining moments are few and far between.

Ravens added Sammy Watkins to their receiver corps for quantity, not quality

Long gone are Watkins’ scintillating days when he was putting up 1,000-yard seasons in Buffalo. The Ravens nabbed him off waivers to add another body to the wide receiver unit, and there’s no need to pretend Watkins is better than he really is.

Watkins was on the field for the Packers out of pure necessity, and he will step onto the field for the Ravens for the exact same reason.

The veteran wideout entered his ninth year in the league in 2022 with somewhat lofty expectations as the Packers had just traded away star talent Davante Adams. Watkins was brought on to theoretically develop into Aaron Rodgers’ right hand man, but he turned into a dud instead and slowly got phased out of Green Bay’s offense, replaced by younger and more explosive speedsters like Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs.

The Ravens’ own high-upside wideout, Rashod Bateman, has been sidelined for some time now, and their offense has suffered tremendously as a result. Baltimore scored 34.3 points per game in their first three games in which Bateman was healthy. After Bateman got injured, the team has scored just 18.9 points per game.

Enter Sammy Watkins, who can make one or two splash plays before inevitably losing steam and falling down the depth chart by the time playoffs come around.

Now reaching the twilight of his career, Sammy Watkins is one story that has been told and retold too many times. Watkins is not a reliable receiver. He is not a viable red zone threat, nor can he be counted on to elevate the Ravens’ passing game. He is a temporary plug-in for Duvernay and will share rotational snaps with fellow vets Demarcus Robinson and DeSean Jackson for the rest of the season; if Robinson is considered the Ravens’ most productive receiver and Jackson is considered the fastest vertical threat, Watkins is considered…. just okay.

At this point, we’d put more faith in practice squad players Andy Isabella or Shemar Bridges, but Watkins does have an advantage given his NFL experience and familiarity in the offensive scheme.

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Desperate times call for desperate measures.