And thus concludes the J.J. Watt sweepstakes. It was announced Monday that the Arizona Cardinals have won Watt’s interest as he remains in a warm-weather state of mind. The much-talked-about frontrunners for the defensive end’s future seemed to rest amongst Cleveland, Green Bay, and, of course, Pittsburgh, where his two brothers already play. On the surface, the Steelers seemed like the favorite as it was a family affair and quite likely may have been the only time in NFL history when three brothers all played on the same team together.
Nevertheless, Pittsburgh has had well-documented cap issues and with the realm of salary the elder Watt was looking to command, there was simply no feasible way he was going to join the Black and Yellow. Next up was Green Bay, which would have fit Watt’s desire to go to a contender, especially considering the Packers made it all the way to the NFC Title Game, only to lose to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Buccaneers.
Then, there was us. The Dawg Pound.
Oh, what a thought it would be to have DE Myles Garrett on one end and J.J. Watt on the other, making opposing quarterbacks run for their lives. While the Browns’ defense needs dire help in other areas than that front line, namely linebacker and secondary, no one could deny how powerful that pairing could have been. Despite the dreams of Cleveland Browns fans everywhere, Watt and the Cardinals agreed on a two-year, $31 million contract, $23 million of which is guaranteed.
The best thing a Browns fan can do today is thank the stars that Browns GM Andrew Berry didn’t offer such a ridiculously bloated contract. Why you may ask? Let’s break down the situation in Cleveland and with Watt. First off, are the aforementioned needs on defense where Cleveland simply cannot put all their financial eggs in one basket. It’s bad enough OBJ’s contract is as much of a cap vacuum as it is. Adding Watt’s asking price to the payroll would have sunk the ship.
Secondly, Watt has had some serious injuries in his career. He is a no-quit behemoth who wills his way to a quarterback. Or at least he used to. That’s not to say he’s not capable of that today, but the cold reality is J.J. Watt has far more years of playing behind him than he does in front of him. The game has taken a toll on his body as it does to so many players in the game, which equates to him not being an every-down player or maybe even an every-week player at this point. That being said, $31 million is a lot of bread for that kind of staggered delivery.
Finally is the financial situation of the Browns as a whole.
Offensive standouts Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb will need to be re-signed as soon as their rookie contracts are in their twilight. Both will be making significantly more on their next deals as they have proven their worth on the field. Chubb is a quiet juggernaut who lets his fierce momentum do all the talking. Mayfield made an incredible leap in performance from the 2019 campaign to 2020, leading his teammates oh so close to the AFC Title Game. Those two need to get locked up or else fans will witness an implosion of the Browns’ offensive talent.
The addition of J.J. Watt would have been a strong flex on defense, but there is still a backfield to address as well needing to acquire some consistent talent at linebacker. With the former Texans’ standout moving further west, Cleveland fans should be taking solace in the fact that he’s not on the Steelers and not inhaling Browns’ payroll.
Stay the course, Browns fans.
In Andrew Berry we trust.