The Buffalo Bills made it official Tuesday: They won't be picking up the fifth-year option on the rookie contract of wide receiver Sammy Watkins.
It means Watkins would become a free agent after the 2017 season, unless the Bills decided to give him a franchise tag (which would give him a guaranteed, one-year deal) or agree to an extension with him.
The Buffalo News reported on April 28 that the Bills were unlikely to pick up the option because of Watkins' uncertain health status. The receiver, who has missed 11 games in the past two years because of injuries, is recovering from a second surgery on his foot since suffering a stress fracture last year.
"Sammy and I have had good conversations about the decision," coach Sean McDermott said in a statement released by the club. "There is no question that Sammy is a very good football player and has worked very hard during his rehab this offseason.
"We look forward to seeing a healthy Sammy Watkins on the field in 2017."
The former Clemson star joined the Bills as the fourth overall pick of the 2014 NFL Draft after Doug Whaley, fired as the team's general manager on Sunday, gave first- and fourth-round picks to the Cleveland Browns to move up for Watkins.