On the mystery of where JJ Watt would sign as an NFL free agency. Watt broke the news of his decision to sign with the Cardinals, disappointing many teams who were chasing the services of the former Texas future Hall of Fame defensive end.
On March 22, 32-year-old Watt will play for the first time in his professional career, other than Houston. Consider Arizona a mild surprise destination based on early speculation.
Here's why the Cardinals ended up being the best possible fit for Watt after being in the open market for two weeks:
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JJ Watt Contract Details
According to ESPN's Adam White , Watt signed a two-year, $ 31 million deal with the Cardinal. The bulk of that number was guaranteed at $ 23 million. Watt reportedly was looking for $ 15–16 million a year, and an average of $ 15.5 million per season falls right in the middle.
In his last six-year contract with Texas, Watt averaged $ 16.67 million over six years with an average total of $ 100 million of contract value with $ 51.876 million. As an older player, he was guaranteed 74 percent of his team's new deal.
The Cardinals showed confidence in him that he would still be an elite defender and would remain a healthy producer through the 2022 season. Arizona is looking at around $ 11 million in the cap space. The big guarantee allows the Cardinal to limit cap hits to Watt for '21 and push the larger numbers into the following year.
Arizona is a good place for ex-Texas stars
Remember how the Cardinals recruited wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins to “Watt” on social media? Discovers that there may be a real trick.
Hopkins immediately fit in with the Cardinals and picked up his big-time pass-catching production, where he left in Houston. There is an exciting young team culture led by quarterback Kylar Murray, looking for the right mix of veterans beyond Hopkins to help the team move forward.
Defensively, the Cardinals will partner with long-term star cornerback Patrick Peterson in free agency. While losing her boyfriend at the end, she needed an experience in the front seven and a performance boost. Watts can be on the side of the ball that was for the Hopkins offense.
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Why JJ Watt was a better fit for the Cardinals than the Browns, Bills, Packers, Steelers, etc.
The Brons and Bills did not have a planned fit as the bases 4-3 teams under Joe Woods and Leslie Frazier, respectively. The Packers are still working as a 3-4 former Rams assistant with Joe Barry as coordinator replacing Mike Petty, but with an estimated over $ 11 million on the cap, they are in a position to accommodate Watt Were not.
The Steelers were only players named due to employing Watt's brothers, TJ and Derek, once ruled that JJ didn't really want to play with them. JJ Watt's price was not great for Pittsburgh, which was $ 19 million above the cap. Among non-playoff teams from 2020, Watt was tied for most of the Chargers' 3-4 under Brandon Staley and Renaldo Hill, but it never got steamy.
The Cardinals, who missed the NFC playoffs at 8-8 last season, had a combination of a good 3-4 scheme under Vance Joseph and were a key hole for both charm and sparkle on Watt. Watt, who had five sacks last season and was a staple against the run for a poor overall Houston defense, was more need-based than a luxury signing for Arizona.
The Cardinals' starting ends, Zach Allen and Jordan Phillips, struggled to take an edge last season. His 32-year-old nose tackle, Corey Peters, is a free agent. He was at number 21 against the run and Wat Stutt is coming from a run-stop year. The Cardinals had 48 sacks, but most of them came from the second tier with Allen, Phillips and Peters only 6.
Do not fool Watt into a modest sack in relation to the monster years in his early prime minister. He was active and disruptive against the pass and may set an important tone for the Cardinals.
Watt's signature confirms that the Cardinals will not try to afford Peterson. He should now focus on his re-signing to breakout outside linebacker Haasan Redick, who had a team of 12.5 sacks in 2020.
The Cardinals have proven under GM Steve Keim that they will be aggressive to acquire veterans with potential impact. Five years ago, he hit the jackpot in acquiring Patriot Chander Jones from the Patriots. They were smart to recognize that Watt was another good investment to overcome a major weakness. Most important, he can help them get out of the hump and go to the playoffs.