KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Brett Veach raised some eyebrows in March 2018 when inking free agent wide receiver Sammy Watkins to a three-year contract worth $48 million but for Veach the deal signified the difference between a playoff team and a championship team.
“When you make offseason moves and you are as aggressive as we are, you do it for games like this not so much for the regular season,” Veach said after Watkins hauled in seven catches for 114 yards and a score in Sunday's AFC Championship win. “When you get in these opportunities to play championship football, to have these guys come through, I was happy for Sammy.”
When the Chiefs added Watkins to an offense that included Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce, the expectations was for Watkins to install himself as the team's top pass catcher. His job was to make the players around him better.
Head coach Andy Reid on Monday said Watkins has done just that.
“He's a great player,” Reid said. “We just have a few of them around him, so everybody can't get the ball every snap. He is the most unselfish guy you've ever been around that has that caliber.”
Watkins was the fourth-overall selection by Buffalo in the 2014 draft, and he was ranked among the league's top 100 players in 2016. Reid said Watkins sends a positive message for other players that someone that that pedigree can set aside their ego for the good of the team.
“It's great for the other guys to see, being that he was picked that high,” Reid said. “He just wants to win. He doesn't care who gets the ball, when or where, he is going to play hard, block, catch, do all of the right things.”
Watkins said he understands it's not necessarily his job to catch a lot of balls week in and week out.
“As you know, we have so many superstars on this team and so many guys that can catch the ball,” Watkins said. “My focus is to bring the energy. Go out there every day in practice, games and go out there and compete at the highest level.”
But on Sunday the Chiefs need Watkins to make plays. Sometimes the presence of Watkins means Hill or Kelce will find themselves in a one-on-one situation. The Titans instead played a lot of doubles on both Hill and Kelce, meaning Watkins found himself in favorable matchups for quarterback Patrick Mahomes to throw his way.
“We saw that they were running Cover 2 a lot and that’s when we started to expose it,” Watkins said. “The coaches did a great job of dialing things up. As a player, we just go out there and be in the right position at the right time and let Pat deliver the ball.”
Watkins' big game justified Kansas City's investment in him, Veach explained.
“We’ve been a playoff team for years,” Veach said. “Since we’ve got here, we’ve been in the playoffs every year. You make moves like that to put you over the top.”