Another day. Another injury. The Denver Broncos received unfortunate news from MRI results regarding WR Jalen Virgil's knee injury that was suffered on the final play of the first half against the 49ers in preseason Week 2. Results confirmed that the second-year Broncos receiver suffered a torn meniscus on the 50-yard reception that will officially require surgery and thus hold him out of action for several months but will not effectively end his season. Now the Broncos have officially lost three significant receivers on their depth chart in just one offseason including Tim Patrick (Achilles), KJ Hamler (waived with NFI designation), and Jalen Virgil (meniscus).
With the depth in the WR room slowly growing thinner and thinner and WR Brandon Johnson dealing with an ankle injury of his own, there is no telling whether or not the depth will hold up for Denver in 2023. Despite having veterans on the roster ready to make a contribution such as Marquez Callaway and Lil'Jordan Humphrey, the Broncos are in a much worse spot depth-wise than they were a month ago prior to Tim Patrick's torn Achilles. GM George Paton's safest bet is most likely looking to add more veteran talent to boost the depth behind starters Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton.
Making the case for the Denver Broncos to sign vet WR Sammy Watkins
Despite no longer remaining in the prime of his career at 30 years old, former Bills, Chiefs, Rams, Ravens, and Packers WR Sammy Watkins is still a fairly reliable receiver and can provide elite depth to a team that is in dire need of it. Behind Denver's starting receivers, there is a lot of question and no clarity which is not a good problem to have just weeks away from the season opener. Of course, a lot of the depth receivers that will make the team will grow their chemistry with QB Russell Wilson and gradually become more comfortable in the offense throughout the season but the Broncos are not in a rebuild or development stage. They've added receivers to make plays in the receiving game off the bat and a few of them have not stepped up to the plate including WR Marquez Callaway.
The depth is a bit concerning however, signing vet WR Sammy Watkins can quickly cover up some of the holes being mentioned. As previously stated, the Broncos have lost three straight WRs on their depth chart to injury/health issues and have yet to sign any proven receivers to fill those voids therefore, you can expect the front office to soon begin surveying the free agent market.
Watkins, 30, has played with numerous different offenses over his nine-year NFL career and caught passes from at least a half-dozen quarterbacks but always seems to adjust well, even though his opportunity has decreased over the years. Watkins has caught a career 364 passes for 5,384 yards and 34 touchdowns with five different teams. He also helped propel Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in their Super Bowl victory over the 49ers in 2020 when he reeled in five catches for 98 yards including a clutch 38-yard reception on the game-winning drive. There's no secret that Watkins has been a security blanket for quarterbacks over the course of his career and is still a reliable receiver entering his tenth NFL season.
The Broncos would greatly benefit from Watkins' postseason experience and veteran leadership in a relatively young room that is looking to make a run at the playoffs for the first time in seven years. In a group headlined by Jerry Jeudy and Courtland Sutton who are expected to have breakout seasons in 2023 under new head coach Sean Payton, adding the veteran Sammy Watkins would only bring sufficient insurance to the position and potentially serve as a sneaky third-down option for Russell Wilson.
Denver should jump on the opportunity before Watkins signs with a contender that could potentially be competing against them down the stretch of the season as they look to make a strong push for the playoffs.