Watt will be joining former teammate DeAndre Hopkins in Arizona
Former Houston Texans star pass-rusher J.J. Watt had a wild time in free agency, but he has finally selected his next team. On Monday, the five-time Pro Bowler announced he was signing with the Arizona Cardinals. According to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network, the Cardinals are giving Watt a two-year deal worth $31 million with $23 million guaranteed.
Watt opted to follow former Texans star wideout DeAndre Hopkins out west instead of joining his brothers in Pittsburgh or signing with another contender. Watt’s decision is surprising considering other teams like the Buffalo Bills, Tennessee Titans and Cleveland Browns were all reported to have a serious level of interest in Watt. As the Cardinals’ official website mentions, the Cardinals were not seen as a suitor until Monday. Still, this defense is certainly one that is on the rise, and a defensive front that includes the likes of Watt and Chandler Jones is something opposing quarterbacks do not want to see.
The Watt hype was at a fever pitch just hours before he made his shocking announcement. According to a bio that supposedly belonged to Watt on Peloton, the cycling workout service, Watt had narrowed his potential destinations to the Bills, Browns and Green Bay Packers. Not long after those rumors began making their rounds on social media, Watt took to Twitter to deny the suggestion, writing: „I don’t own a bike. Stop.“
The NFC West has been without a doubt the most interesting division this offseason, as the Los Angeles Rams made a move for former Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford, plus Russell Wilson is reportedly unhappy with his situation in Seattle. Now, along with facing Nick Bosa, Aaron Donald and Jones twice a year, Wilson has to see Watt twice as well.
SportsLine data scientist Stephen Oh ran through his simulations with Watt as a member of the Cardinals, and he predicts that this signing could be an impactful one. Due to differences in strength of schedule, all four NFC West teams are labeled as „contenders“ since all are averaging between 8.7 and 9.0 wins per simulation. With Watt in Arizona, the Cardinals are already projected to improve on their 8-8 record from last season, and are up +0.4 wins per simulation to 9.2. Their playoff percentage is now 58.5 percent after being just 49.3 percent before the addition of Watt. In terms of being contenders for a Super Bowl, Oh says adding Watt brings the Cardinals’ Super Bowl percentage chance up one full percentage point – from 2.2 percent to 3.2 percent.