Why did JJ Watt signal with Cardinals? The previous Texan star finds a very good contract and suits in completely with Arizona
The mystery of where JJ Watt will sign as a free NFL agency has been solved. Watts took the news of his decision to sign with the Cardinals to the disappointment of several teams who enlisted the services of the former Texans’ future defensive Hall of Fame endors.
Watt, who turns 32 on March 22, will be playing anywhere other than Houston for the first time in his career. Think of Arizona as a mild surprise destination based on early speculation.
Here’s why the Cardinals had the best possible fit for Watts after two weeks on the open market:
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JJ Watt contract details
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Cardinals signed a two-year deal worth $ 31 million for Watts. Most of that number was guaranteed $ 23 million. Watts reportedly looked for $ 15 to 16 million annually, and that $ 15.5 million per season average is right in the middle.
In his previous six-year contract with the Texans, Watt averaged $ 16.67 million over six years, with $ 51.876 million of the total guaranteed contract value of $ 100 million. As an older player, he was guaranteed 74 percent of his new team deal.
The Cardinals showed confidence in him that he will continue to be an elite defender and will remain a healthy producer through the 2022 season. Arizona provides a cap space of around $ 11 million. The large guarantee allows the Cardinals to cap the cap hit for Watts for ’21 and postpone the larger number into the next year.
Arizona is a good place for ex-Texans
Remember how Cardinal’s wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins “recruited” Watt on social media? It turned out that this might have been a real trick.
Hopkins immediately fitted in with the Cardinals, picking up his great pass-catching production where he left off in Houston. There’s a culture of an exciting young team led by quarterback Kyler Murray looking for the right mix of veterans beyond Hopkins to lead the team in the future.
Defensively, the Cardinals will part ways with Patrick Peterson, the longtime star cornerback, in the free agency. While they lost his grasp on the back end, they needed a boost in experience and execution in the front seven. Watt can be on this side of the ball what Hopkins was for the offense.
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Why JJ Watt was a better fit with Cardinals than with Browns, Bills, Packers, Steelers, etc.
The Browns and Bills were never schematic adaptations as base 4-3 teams under Joe Woods and Leslie Frazier, respectively. The Packers are still running a 3-4 with former Rams assistant Joe Barry replacing Mike Pettine as coordinator, but with more than $ 11 million over the cap they have been unable to adjust to Watts.
The Steelers were only gamblers because they employed Watt’s brothers TJ and Derek, who were disfellowshipped when JJ reportedly didn’t really want to play with them. The price for JJ Watt wasn’t particularly high for Pittsburgh, at $ 19 million above the cap. Among the 2020 non-playoff teams, Watts led the Chargers 3-4 under Brandon Staley and Renaldo Hill, but that never gained traction.
The Cardinals, who missed the NFC playoffs 8-8 last season, had the combination of a good 3-4 scheme under Vance Joseph and a keyhole to lure and pamper Watts. Watt, who had five sacks last season and remained dominant against the run with poor overall defense in Houston, was more of an on-demand than a luxury signing for Arizona.
The Cardinals’ starts Zach Allen and Jordan Phillips struggled to stay ahead last season. Corey Peters, a 32-year-old nose tackle, is a free agent. You were number 21 against the run and Watt has had a tough run-stop year. The Cardinals had 48 sacks, but most of them came from the second level, with Allen, Phillips and Peters only combining 6.
Don’t be fooled by Watt, who has a modest sack total relative to the monster years it had in its early prime. He was all around active and disruptive against the pass and can give the cardinals an important tone.
Watt’s signature confirms that the cardinals will not try to afford Peterson. Now they need to focus their re-signing focus on the outbreak outside linebacker Haason Reddick, which had a team high of 12.5 sacks in 2020.
The Cardinals, under GM Steve Keim, have shown that they will be aggressive to attract potential Impact veterans. They hit the jackpot five years ago when they bought the Edge Rusher Chandler Jones from the Patriots. They were smart at realizing that Watt was another good investment in eliminating a major lingering weakness. Most importantly, he can help them get over the hill and get into the playoffs.