Chiefs: The perfect free agent replacement for Sammy Watkins

The Kansas City Chiefs are unlikely to retain Sammy Watkins this offseason, but they could get a solid replacement in free agency.

The NFL world was left in stunned awe after watching the Kansas City Chiefs, the Super Bowl 55 favorites at the start of the season, get dominated by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now, they enter the offseason with 16 players hitting unrestricted free agency while being $22.8 million over the salary cap threshold. One of those free agents is wide receiver Sammy Watkins.

Not too long ago, Chiefs general manager Brett Veach mentioned that he would try to bring back Watkins, but noted that it would take some work. Fast forward to this week, and Veach has said that it will “be challenging to retain him” as they have to get under the salary cap first.

With Watkins likely having to come on a discount, that means the Chiefs won’t be shopping at the top of the wide receiver market. Veach himself has said he does not envision the Chiefs shopping for a pass-catcher in the first week of the league year. But all is not lost, because the Chiefs can replace Watkins with San Francisco 49ers wideout Kendrick Bourne.

Chiefs: Retaining Sammy Watkins will “be challenging” for Kansas City

Much like Watkins, Bourne is versatile on the offensive side of the ball. He can lineup wide or in the slot.

Bourne is coming off a career year with the 49ers. After losing Emmanuel Sanders to the New Orleans Saints last offseason, the 49ers went with the youth movement of Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel and Bourne. But with Samuel being limited to seven games to injury, Bourne stepped up.

This season, Bourne had career-highs in receptions (49), targets (74) and receiving yards (667) through 15 games. Additionally, Bourne posted a yards-per-reception average of 13.6.

Bourne could be on the outside looking in this offseason, as the 49ers have a staggering 28 players hitting unrestricted free agency and $23.5 million in cap space. Most of that money will likely be dedicated to left tackle Trent Williams, whom the team acquired from the Washington Football Team during the NFL Draft.

Watkins has played a pivotal role for the Chiefs during his three-year tenure, especially during their Super Bowl 54 win over the 49ers, but retaining him is unrealistic at this point. But, the Chiefs can get a suitable replacement in Bourne later on in free agency. Bourne thrived in Kyle Shanahan’s offense, and he could find similar success in Kansas City under Andy Reid and with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

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