by Mario Granata
Sammy Watkins is the best receiver the Bills have had during the drought.
He’s never healthy.
We should have drafted Beckham.
Watkins is an elite talent.
Looking at the factors that are involved when trying to analyze the reasons why the Buffalo Bills, a team that is starving for a playoff appearance, would decline the 5th-year option of one of their more explosive players. Perhaps, there are some numbers you should acclimate yourself with before you start to make your decision as to ‘why’ the Bills have chosen this path.
First off, lets examine the money that is involved with the different options that Sammy Watkins will have prior to the 2018 season.
Franchise Tag: Exclusive Tag
This is the most common tag that is used in the NFL. The reason why it is so widely used is that once a player is Exclusive Tagged, no other team can negotiate with him during the duration of his tag. When examining dollars and cents, the Exclusive Franchise Tag would pay the player the average of the Top-5 players at his position or (if the player was already the highest paid player), 120% of his previous year’s salary. The 120% is to avoid teams tagging an already highest paid player to give them a pay cut. This means that Sammy would make a predicted (since the official numbers aren’t out yet) 18 million dollars for 2018 for the Exclusive Franchise Tag.
Franchise Tag: Non-Exclusive
This is a tricky one if used right, on the right player. The Non-Exclusive Tag’s compensation (18 million dollars) would still be in effect, however, if Watkins was Non-Exclusive Tagged, he would have the option to negotiate with other teams who would want to sign him. If there was another team who wanted to sign Watkins to a deal, the Bills would have two options: Match the offer that Watkins was given, or let him walk. The most interesting part of the Non-Exclusive Tag is that if another team offered Watkins a deal, and the Bills declined to match, the Bills would be awarded two (2) first-round picks from the team that signed him.
The transition tag is much like the 5th-year option in that it takes the average of the Top-10 at the position, rather than the Top-5 of the Franchise Tags. What does this mean money wise? Well, the predicted Transition Tag/5th-Year Option for 2018 is looking to be in the neighborhood of 13 million dollars. Much like the non-exclusive tag, Watkins would be given the option to negotiate with other teams for their services. Buffalo would once again be able to match the deal that was offered to Watkins. If they decline to match the deal, they would be offered no compensation. The Transition Tag is used more often than not when a player thinks that he is worth more than the franchise does, and it’s sort of the franchise saying, “Sure, go and see what you are worth.”
Other teams use it so they don’t have to do the leg work for negotiating a deal with a player. (Google Alex Mack)
What does this mean for the Bills? I think that Sean McDermott is trying to kill two birds with one stone; He is setting a precedent that no one is guaranteed a roster spot on the Buffalo Bills and he will use the Non-Exclusive Tag in the hopes that he will get back the two picks that he Bills gave up to get Watkins. (Wouldn’t that be poetic justice?)
McDermott is taking control of his team and doing it the way that he grew up in the NFL seeing it done. Take this into account: During the time that the Buffalo Bills made the playoffs, McDermott has worked for the Eagles and the Panthers. In 17 seasons, the teams that he has worked for made the playoffs 12 times.
4 times they advanced to the Divisional Round.
4 times they advanced to the Conference Championship.
2 times they made the Super Bowl.
So in total, 10 times playing a Divisional game, 6 times playing a Conference Championship and twice losing in the Super Bowl.
In that stretch the players who have lead their respective teams in receiving were Tight End (7), Wide Receiver (6), Running Back (3), WR/RB Tie (1). The average receptions for the leading receiver for those teams was 72.
McDermott has NEVER coached on a team that has had a receiver break 100 receptions. I think it’s safe to say that the offense will run through McCoy…that is until they draft his replacement next season. At this point, Watkins is auditioning for the rest of the league. But, who would give up two first-round picks to get him is the multi-million dollar question?