With Watkins having completed his rookie contract and now heading into his fifth season, the Eagles would have to extend a fourth-round tender in order to retain him, but the organization apparently didn't feel he was worthy of that price tag. The 25-year-old appeared in 28 games over the past two seasons, but saw nearly as many snaps (165) on special teams as he did on defense (168) in 2017. With 2017 second-round defensive back Sidney Jones back to full strength after missing nearly all of his rookie season while recovering from an Achilles injury and top special teamer Chris Maragos (knee) set to return in 2018 after an injury-shortened season, the Eagles are well equipped to compensate for Watkins' departure.
Watkins served as a reserve option in Philadelphia's secondary, and his only significant production came with seven solo tackles in the 6-0 loss to the Cowboys in Week 17. The 26-year-old enters 2018 as a restricted free agent but is far from guaranteed to return to the Eagles.
Watkins is finally off the injury report after missing four consecutive games. The 24-year-old will likely return to his role as a reserve safety and could make significant contributions on special teams with team captain Chris Maragos (knee) placed on injured reserve.
Watkins (hamstring) is inactive for Thursday's game against the Panthers, Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.
Watkins will his miss his fourth straight contest due to a hamstring injury, which is a bit surprising considering he was a full participant in practice earlier this week. Nonetheless, look for Chris Maragos to continue to serve as the main backup to starting safety Malcolm Jenkins.