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Watkins happy to take less money with Chiefs

Brandon Zenner
St. Joseph News-Press
Chiefs receiver Sammy Watkins (14) tries to avoid San Francisco tacklers during Kansas City's Super Bowl win in February.

Whether he's torching secondaries in the playoffs, bonding with teammates over pickleball or exploring his ever-deep state of thinking, Sammy Watkins has his happy place.

It doesn't require money, stats or approval from the outside to get there. The Chiefs wideout even took a $5 million pay cut to remain in his happy place – with the reigning Super Bowl champions.

"I think I've made enough money," said Watkins, who has made nearly $54 million in his six years as a pro. "I mean ... I love more money, but as far as being smart and educated on this team, knowing that you gotta pay Pat (Mahomes), you gotta pay Chris (Jones), you got a lot of guys you gotta pay. For me to take a contract like I did was a blessing.

"Really just showing the world it's not all about money. This is my happy place. Why not take a smaller contract and come out and play with the guys I've been playing with?"

The stance came a few months after an interview with Bleacher Report in which he claimed "it's going to be World War III" if the offense wasn't more centered around him.

Watkins backed off that comment this week in a Zoom interview with media members, his first since his recent comments and a contract restructure that followed.

"I'm past that. ... I just really want to get back to football," he said. "Every receiver, any player wants to go out there and do well and score touchdowns or catch as many balls as you possibly can and get the yards. I want those types of things.

"But that's not my focus. My focus is getting the win and going out there and having fun. The focus is on trying to win games. If we can win games and the Super Bowl and I can get 1,000 yards, then that would be great. You've got to be realistic with yourself and say that we have arguably seven superstars on one offense."

The former Buffalo Bill and Los Angeles Ram has been the third-leading receiver in Kansas City in his first two years behind Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill. Regardless, he's always shown up in big moments.

He recorded 114 yards in both AFC Championship appearances and tallied 98 yards in Super Bowl 54, including a 38-yard catch in the fourth quarter over Richard Sherman to set up the go-ahead touchdown against San Francisco – a moment he ranked at the top of his career list.

To have more chances at that moment is exactly what grounded him to remain in KC.

"For what we did in winning the Super Bowl and the type of team and coaches we have, the organization, why wouldn't I stay? I'm a guy that's been in the league going on seven years, and I've been on teams that were not so good and were not winning," Watkins said.

"We've got a well-established quarterback, a well-established team, coaches, organization. The real fun is in the winning more than anything."

Watkins could've potentially become a free agent without a restructuring and chased down stats elsewhere. Head coach Andy Reid is more than ecstatic to keep him around.

"I'm a big Sammy Watkins fan," Reid emphasized. "I think he's a heck of a football player. He really helps make this thing go, offensively... I'd hope he'd want the ball more. That's what great players want. So, that doesn't bother me that he said that.

"I'm glad he's back here, and he'll have opportunities for sure."