Newly acquired Arizona Cardinal defensive end J.J. Watt readies to squat lift. Photo courtesy of @JJWatt via Twitter.
Former three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt has officially signed a deal spanning over the next two seasons for a total of $31 million. He's guaranteed $23 million of that amount, this deal comes weeks before his 32nd birthday. The NFL veteran will be heading into his 11th pro year in the 2021 season.
It is notable that he missed considerable time in 2016 and 2017 only playing 8 games in the two season span. Regardless of his injury history, he has posted 5 seasons with double-digit sacks and ranks first league-wide in QB hits and tackles for loss since 2011. The last season he posted such numbers was in 2018 when he was opposite of EDGE Jadaveon Clowney and achieved 16 sacks as well as seven forced fumbles!
If it's an opposite defender that he needs to get back to elite-level, then Cardinals outside linebacker Chandler Jones may be exactly what Watt's asking for. This seems to be the "splash move" to answer the Los Angeles Rams' blockbuster trade for Matthew Stafford from the Detroit Lions. That deal, of course sending 5-year pro Jared Goff and 3 draft picks to Detroit in exchange for Stafford. The NFC West is raising its ever-high stock yet again. Either way the new Cardinal joins his former all-pro teammate wide reciever DeAndre Hopkins.
So does this make the Cardinals contenders? For the Super Bowl? Not quite. Not to say that they can't make it to the big game next year, but they will need to make brilliant moves to finish free agency as well as in the draft. Not impossible, but not quite in sight either. The NFC West however being so tight and breeming with talent, there is a way Arizona sneaks into a battle with any one of their division rivals. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson certainly isn't happy to hear this news after having publicly voiced his displeasure with his lack of protection. Stafford wasn't expecting to see that type of front next season. And whoever is filling the playcalling shoes in San Francisco is going to have their work cut-out for them. Watt certainly adds a physical presence on the field, but the emotional aspect he brings is something that cannot be truly valued. He can BE a team without dominating the stat line (even though he's certainly good enough to do both). So a grade on the move? Given the money they poured in, it does beg to be averaged down from a perfect grade but the potential and PROBABLE benefits reaped can't be ignored.
JJ Watt to Arizona for $31 million for 2 years: A-