The Buffalo Bills have already confirmed the news in a statement from HC Sean McDermott:
The Buffalo Bills have declined to pick up Sammy Watkins' fifth-year option. pic.twitter.com/zS3xZT7tWt
— Buffalo Bills (@buffalobills) May 2, 2017
Rapoport mentions that this decision could prove to be a blessing for Watkins, as the franchise tag figure will be much higher than the fifth-year option salary.
It would have cost the Bills around $13 million for the 2018 season. However, this figure was guaranteed only for injury only and wouldn’t have prevented them from working on a long-term extension over the next year.
Watkins, 23, was taken with the No. 4 overall pick back in 2014 after the Bills traded up to get him. He’s currently in the final year of his four-year, $19.935 million rookie contract and stands to make a base salary of $3,138,491 in 2017.
Watkins underwent a second foot surgery back in January after struggling with the injury throughout the 2016 season.
In 2016, Watkins appeared in eight games for the Bills, recording 28 receptions for 430 yards receiving and two touchdowns. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 47 receiver out of 115 qualifying players.