The Bills' decision on Watkins comes two days after firing general manager Doug Whaley.
McDermott had what he called "good conversations" with Watkins in explaining the reasoning behind the decision.
He also scored seven touchdowns over that nine-game stretch and averaged better than 18 yards per catch.
The Bills could either negotiate a new deal with Watkins during the season or after the season, paying him a market-rate deal that allows the team some flexibility in deciding his salary-cap numbers going forward. Watkins hasn't stayed healthy, and with how little he was able to contribute in 2016 certainly cast a large shadow of doubt on if he could shake this foot injury.
The Buffalo News reported on April 28 that the Bills were unlikely to pick up the option because of Watkins' uncertain health status.
Watkins' time in Buffalo has been full of peaks and valleys. If Watkins does have another injury-shortened season where he is unable to produce on the field, then they can let the young receiver walk into free agency and save a few million dollars. Instead, the Bills have chosen to wait and see how Watkins performs - and how healthy he stays - during the 2017 season before deciding on what to do long-term. The tag would net the wideout more cash in one year than the fifth-year option. If he does, the Bills surely will revisit their position on him. With the decision, Watkins is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2017 season. There's no question that Watkins has the ability to dominate when he's healthy. While it's a complex situation and there is a fear of the unknown factor, it boils down to a simple line of thinking for me: when you have the chance to hang on to an extremely talented player for a possible below market value, you do it. Injuries and quarterback play have held him back, but Watkins only has one game with more than 10 catches.