Veteran wide receiver Sammy Watkins addressed the media for the first time since becoming a Baltimore Raven. The former fourth overall pick officially signed his one-year contract last Friday after passing his physical. On Tuesday in his introductory press conference, he listed several reasons why he decided to come to Charm City.
“I just wanted to be somewhere different,” Watkins said. “I think the best place to be, and to be around some younger guys, and another MVP quarterback that’s really good (is Baltimore). Once I took my visit I knew I fit in with the Baltimore Ravens, just the vibes and energy and coaches was amazing.”
Chief among those reasons is the quarterback that he’ll be catching passes from. After spending the last three seasons in Kansas City as one of the most trusted targets of former league and Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, he wanted a fresh start and will now be playing with another former league MVP in Lamar Jackson.
“I just wanted a new scenery for myself. There was one team that stuck out, and it was the Ravens. Lamar Jackson, I heard too many great stories about the team and the history of Baltimore.”
The two players have already been in contact and Watkins shared how he can’t wait to be led by and play with the Ravens’ electrifying face of the franchise.
“I definitely had a great conversation with him and kind of talked to him like, ‘Man, this is your show. I just want to be a part of it,” said Watkins. “You’re a special talent, and I just want to come here and help out, as far as making plays for you and making it easy on you.’
The atmosphere and vibes of the organization are something he cited as another reason why he instantly fell in love with the Ravens as soon as he stepped into team headquarters at the Under-Armor Performance Center in Owning Mills, MD.
“It was just a surreal moment, once I went there, I knew right away like, ‘Man, I’m going to Baltimore,’” Watkins said about his initial visit.
In addition to getting a chance to go from playing with one dynamic generational talent under center to another, Watkins cited the familiarity with two members of the Ravens’ offensive coaching staff as to why he believes he’ll be a great fit and have success in Baltimore.
He will be reunited with Greg Roman who was his offensive coordinator in Buffalo when he had the best single-season of his career. The Ravens also brought in one of his favorite positional coaches in Keith Williams to be their pass-game specialist. Both coaches have been key in his maturation as a player and he is excited for the opportunity to be able to work with them both on a regular basis.
Roman was the play-caller for the Bills in 2015 when he caught a career-high nine touchdowns and recorded the first and only 1,000-plus yard season of his career. He was excited to see his former coach get another chance to call plays with the Ravens and thinks Jackson will continue to shine in this offense.
“Once I saw him get the job I was like, ‘Man, we need to make something happen,” said Watkins. “When I was at Buffalo, I had my best times with him. I can’t complain. Lamar’s going to have fun passing the ball around and making plays.”
Roman knows how to utilize him best and can put him and others in the best positions to succeed, which includes operating out of the slot as well as out wide and getting the ball in his hands in a multitude of ways.
“I actually went and looked at my last time I played in Buffalo , and being in that offense, they moved us around a ton, actually,” Watkins said. “I moved around in several different spots, and he found so many special ways to get me the ball – whether it was quick on a shallow, whether it was a double-move, whether it was going deep. And I just can’t wait.”
As his personal position coach, Williams helped Watkins refine his skills and become a complete receiver who can run a variety of crisp routes with excellent technique. He believes that his presence will continue to help him improve as well as help the Ravens’ younger receivers develop.
“[He knows] the art of running routes, and making it easy on guys to actually get open,” Watkins said. “He can take a guy that runs a 4.8 and make sure he can separate from guys and get open and catch balls. I think that’s the most critical thing with the wide receivers that are going to be in the room. No matter what type of guy you’ve got, stature, speed, he’s going to make sure you [can] be you within the play, but have the ability to get open with whatever route or concepts Greg’s going to call.”
“He just knows how to tap into the mind and the body, knows what to get you over the hump as far as certain routes. How to approach DB’s. To have him every day in practice, every day in my corner, in my ear, I just know there’s going to be some special things happening this year.”
Watkins believes that the Ravens are a complete team that possesses top five units on both sides of the ball and the potential to ascend to greater heights.
“When you’ve got that, you can put those small pieces together, and this team can be special, and I just want to be a part of that,” said Watkins.
He prides himself on being a complete wide receiver who can contribute in both the running and passing game. He believes he is as good as they come at his position and possesses the attributes that will help him play at a high level and the offense succeed overall.
“I think I’m just as elite as any other receiver in this game, as far as going out there and matching up, playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played – blocking, running great routes, getting open,” said Watkins. “I just have to put it all together.”
Putting it “all together” means that Watkins will need to stay on the field more than he has throughout his career. He’s only played a full 16 games once in his career and that came during his rookie year.
“I’m in my seventh year now, to where, hopefully, I can put it all together, stay healthy, go out there and ball, be elite, have fun, and win games,” said Watkins. “This is just the team that can get over the hump.”
If he can stay healthy and be the same or at least similar consistent target for Jackson as he was with Mahomes, he’ll not only help the Ravens improve their passing game in 2021. He could be a key cog in helping the team get over the proverbial hump that has stumped them in the postseason the past three years.
After playing for three different franchises in his career, Watkins hopes that Baltimore is his last stop and the Ravens are the last team he suits up for. He is determined to produce this fall and earn an extended stay.
“It’s just one of those feelings where you know it’s home,” Watkins said. “I have a great year here, and hopefully I can do another contract and end my career here. That’s kind of my mindset.