By Josh Henwood (@jhenwood92)
Three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year JJ Watt has agreed to a two-year, $31 million deal with the Arizona Cardinals in what is the first major free agency transaction of the 2021 season.
NFL Insider Ian Rapoport was first to report that the defensive end was on his way to Glendale, sourcing JJ himself who posted a picture of himself working out in the gym wearing a Cardinals shirt on Twitter.
Watt said that he would not surrender salary for a Super Bowl chase, and he certainly isn’t with this deal. The contract has $23 million guaranteed. He will also be reunited with Vance Joseph, one of his former defensive coordinators in Houston, as well as star wide-receiver Deandre Hopkins.
Sack Kings of the Desert
The Arizona Cardinals now have the two top sack artists in the League since 2012, with Chandler Jones and JJ Watt. Together, they are sure to provide NFC West offenses and more with nightmares for the next two years.
The Cardinals were highly touted last year but fell off a cliff halfway through the 2020 season. Initial reaction is that this deal opens a potential Championship window for the Cardinals thanks to their star-studded talent.
However, question marks remain over head coach Kliff Kingsbury and quarterback Kyler Murray, before these questions can be entertained with confidence.
The NFC West is in a state of flux currently with the Rams switching out Jared Goff for Matthew Stafford; the Seahawks facing quarterback-led drama regarding the offensive line’s woes – something else that will appeal to Arizona’s Sack Kings; and San Francisco facing a number of questions themselves after a chaotic 2020 season.
In any case, JJ Watt brings intrigue and opportunity to Arizona, and Arizona in turn have given him a well-deserved pay-day.