Signing Sammy Watkins is all about helping Patrick Mahomes II succeed

Stephen A.: Chiefs rank among top 3 AFC teams (1:54)

Free agency has transformed the way Stephen A. Smith views the Chiefs for 2018. (1:54)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- General manager Brett Veach has for so long tried to acquire wide receiver Sammy Watkins for the Kansas City Chiefs that coach Andy Reid said it's been "forever, it seems like."

So the Chiefs' interest in Watkins didn't suddenly pop up when they replaced Alex Smith at quarterback with Patrick Mahomes II. Veach tried trading for Watkins last year, when Smith quarterbacked the Chiefs and Watkins played for the Buffalo Bills.

The difference is that this time, the Chiefs didn't believe they could fail in their attempt to bring Watkins to Kansas City. They felt they couldn't install the 22-year-old Mahomes as a starter at a most important position without surrounding him with the best possible supporting cast.

"We are excited to give him some tools to work with, and it is going to be a lot of fun next year," Veach said. "You have an innovative head coach and an innovative staff. You have a bunch of weapons, and we are looking to have fun. And this is something for the fans, too. We have the best fans in the NFL, and we want to go out there and put on a show. We want them to be excited and watch the scoreboard light up.

"I think it's going to be a lot of fun. I think the sky's the limit with this, and that's the way we kind of viewed it."

Watkins joins what was already a strong group of skill players. Tight end Travis Kelce, running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill were all selected to play in the Pro Bowl last season.

Hill and Watkins give the Chiefs one of the best pair of wide receiving deep threats in the NFL.

"We have guys [who] can go," Reid said. "But it's not always about how fast you can run. Quickness can be a strength, too, for a receiver. Route running, knowing the defensive secondary and how you read those. We feel like our short and intermediate game, we feel like we aren't going to decline in [those areas].

"But we have guys [who] can go down the field."

Eight of the nine offensive linemen who played for the Chiefs last season will return. The exception is Zach Fulton, who left as a free agent for the Houston Texans.

"Patrick is coming into a good situation where he has good players around him,'' Reid said. "Patrick is coming into a situation where he has a good offensive line and he has good skill players.

"We could line up and play today without any additions and still be fine and really be in a good situation. Not a lot of teams could say that ... offensively, we can line up and go play at a really high level."

The biggest unknown for the Chiefs offensively is Mahomes, who started and played in one game last season. But he impressed the Chiefs enough as a rookie that they felt comfortable in trading Smith.

"I'm super excited about everything that Mr. Veach and coach Reid and everybody has [done] this offseason of helping us get in the best position to win," Mahomes said. "We have a lot of young guys with a lot of enthusiasm that are really ready to go out there and win.

"I feel like as a team, we have won a lot of games in the last few years, and we are bringing a lot of those guys back. And with the additions that we have added, I feel like we can have a very, very good offense.''

Watkins has yet to put together even one big season in his four NFL seasons, three with the Bills and last year with the Los Angeles Rams. But he has 25 touchdowns and an impressive per-catch average of 15.9 yards.

He also doesn't turn 25 until June, so it figures that he's only going to improve.

"Just from watching his film this last year and seeing him when I was in college, he's a guy that's super talented, a great player,'' Mahomes said. "He's had a lot of success in the NFL. Just to add him to an offense that already has weapons everywhere, it makes life for me a little easier. I just need to put the ball in their hands, and they'll all make the plays."