The Houston Texans are in rebuild mode and just a few weeks ago released All-Pro defensive lineman J.J. Watt. Watt, the three-time defensive player of the year decided to join his former Texans teammate Deandre Hopkins signing a two-year $31 million deal with $23 million guaranteed with the Arizona Cardinals.
Watt, a dominant presence on the defensive line, joins pro bowl outside linebacker Chandler Jones and pro bowl safety Budda Baker as yet another side on the defensive side of the ball for Arizona.
Watt was drafted 11th in the 2011 NFL draft and was a member of the Texans for the last 10 years and after hitting free agency received plenty of interest from teams across the league. It has been reported that Watt took less money to sign with Arizona and rejected larger offers from the Indianapolis Colts and Arizona Cardinals.
The Green Bay Packers were expected to be suitors for Watt the Wisconsin native joined by the Pittsburgh Steelers as his brothers T.J. Watt and Derek Watt are on the team.
Legacy in Houston
Watt goes down as the most dominant defensive lineman in Texans History and an incredible person in the community. As a member of the Texans Watt caused chaos for opposing offenses recording 101 sacks, 172 tackles for loss, and forced 25 fumbles.
Something that made Watt special was his ability to affect the play even if he did not get into the backfield with his ability to bat down passes. Watt recorded 61 passes defended and two interceptions in which both he returned for touchdowns.
When healthy Watt is up there with Aaron Donald as one of the most dominant defensive linemen in the league. Watt has made it to five pro bowls and been an NFL All-Pro five times. Watt has battled significant injuries such as a torn pectoral muscle, a tibial fracture, and herniated discs. Watt is coming off of a 2020 season where he played in all sixteen regular-season games.
JJ Watt and Chandler Jones
With J.J. Watt and Chandler Jones teaming up in Arizona, the Cardinals immediately have a dangerous pash rush. Watt and Jones have been two of the most dominant pass rushers over the past decade. Watt came into the league in 2011 and has produced 101 sacks, Jones entered the league in 2012 and has produced 97 sacks which rank amongst the top of the league since 2011.
For teams wanting to double team Watt or Jones, it will now be more difficult as one of the two will have a one on one matchup. Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has voiced his frustration with being hit and the addition of J.J. Watt in Arizona doesn’t make that any better.
Cardinals Outlook on 2021 Season
The addition of J.J. is huge for the Cardinals. Not only does Watt boost an already solid defense, but Watt also brings leadership to a young team. Arizona has a strong core on offense with quarterback Kyler Murray, running back Kenyan Drake, and wide receiver Deandre Hopkins. Arizona now has one or more playmakers at all levels of their defense and a mix of young and veteran stars.
Arizona invested heavily in their defense in the 2020 NFL draft drafting Clemson linebacker Isiah Simmons eighth overall. The addition of Watt on the defensive line should allow Simmons to roam freely and have an even larger impact.
Cardinals’ longtime cornerback Patrick Peterson is expected to hit free agency this offseason and losing him would hurt the defense. Overall, the addition of Watt offers a major upgrade to the Cardinal’s defensive line and Arizona should be a playoff team in 2021.
Arizona plays in what might be the most difficult division of football the NFC West joined by the Rams, 49ers, and Seahawks.