Carolina Panthers: Sammy Watkins Is Worth The Gamble [Opinion]

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The Carolina Panthers are in dire need of a wide receiver. The last good one they had was Steve Smith and that was in 2013. While the Panthers did make it to the Super Bowl with a who’s who list of pass catchers, last season showed how valuable a true No. 1 threat could be. Yes, Greg Olsen can still play but after him, Newton was forced to rely on a rookie running back and Devin Funchess after the trade of Kelvin Benjamin. This is where Sammy Watkins comes in to play.

According to Bleacher Report, the Los Angeles Rams did not hit Watkins with the franchise tag. What that does is make him a free agent and possibly the top target for the Panthers this offseason.

In 2017 while with the Rams, Watkins caught 39 passes for 539 yards and eight touchdowns. What stood out the most for Watkins was that he managed to play in 15 games after just eight the previous year due to injury. While he didn’t make the big impact many had hoped for, Watkins did show that if healthy, he could still produce. This has to have Norv Turner blushing.

Should the Panthers Sign Sammy Watkins?

With the release of Jonathan Stewart, the Panthers will look to hand the ball off to Christian McCaffrey more and that could mean fewer pass receptions. In 2017, McCaffrey led the Panthers with 80 receptions, followed by Funchess with 63. The next closest receiver was TE Ed Dickson with 30. Olsen missed a chunk of the season due to injury but this is still a glaring hole the Panthers must fill.

Watkins, just 24 will be entering his fifth year in the NFL and according to Spotrac, his market value is set at $5.9 million per season. If this were to hold, this would fit right into the Panthers’ cap. But what’s best is that after spending the season playing for the 11-5 Rams, Watkins may want to keep that streak of playing for a contender alive. While the Cleveland Browns or San Francisco 49ers can throw a truckload of money his way, Watkins may see a great opportunity to play with Newton.

Watkins is still considered one of the fastest receivers in the NFL and pairing him with the strong-armed Newton, especially for short underneath routes could give fans flashbacks of the Newton-to-Smith era.