NFL legend J.J. Watt‘s decision to agree to a deal with the Arizona Cardinals nearly broke the internet on Monday. Many people had Watt connected to teams like the Browns, Bills, Packers, and Steelers, but he surprised everyone by announcing that he is taking his talents to Arizona. Stephen A. Smith of ESPN isn’t sold on Watt’s decision, though. In fact, Smith recently said that Watt “blew it.”
J.J. Watt has agreed to a deal with the Arizona Cardinals
J.J. Watt had a remarkable career with the Houston Texans. He won three Defensive Player of the Year awards and led the NFL in sacks twice. Watt also recorded 20.5 sacks in two separate seasons and 16 sacks or more in four seasons.
However, with the Texans becoming one of the worst teams in the NFL in 2020, Watt chose to part ways with Houston this offseason. While reports linked him to several teams, J.J. Watt announced his decision to sign with the Arizona Cardinals on March 1.
According to ESPN, the deal is reportedly for two years and is worth $31 million with $23 million guaranteed.
“I’m excited to get started,” Watt said, according to ESPN. “Very excited to get started, get to work, get to know the people of Arizona.”
While the Cardinals are certainly a team on the rise, some people are questioning Watt’s decision to go there. This is especially because of reports suggesting that he wanted to go to a team that is a “contender,” per ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler.
Stephen A. Smith thinks that J.J. Watt ‘blew it’
The news surrounding J.J. Watt has been one of the biggest stories in sports recently. This led to Stephen A. Smith of ESPN recently discussing it, and he isn’t too sold on the Cardinals being the right team for Watt.
“Here’s where I think he also kind of blew it, though,” Smith said on the March 2 episode of First Take. “J.J. Watt clearly wants to be in a position to compete for a Super Bowl championship. I’m not saying that can’t happen with Arizona, but if you’re predicting that Arizona is going to do it ahead of the other options that he had available to him, whether it was Pittsburgh, whether it was Green Bay, or another team, I would dare challenge anybody on that.”
He continued: “You’ve got three teams within the division that are considered better than you. Now, does that mean you won’t improve, and you won’t leap-frog over one of them? Sure. What’s the likelihood of you leap-frogging over all three of them? I sincerely doubt it. So, in that regard, I would say J.J. Watt might have gone to the wrong team because, at this stage and point in his career, he clearly wants to compete for a Super Bowl championship.”
So, is Stephen A. Smith right? Are the Cardinals even contenders?
Are the Arizona Cardinals even Super Bowl contenders?
At this point, it’s hard to say that J.J. Watt and the Arizona Cardinals are Super Bowl contenders. The Cardinals improved significantly in 2020 compared to 2019, but they still only went 8-8 and missed the playoffs. Kyler Murray and DeAndre Hopkins both played really well offensively, as did running back Kenyan Drake, but their offense still only scored a mediocre 25.6 points per game. Defensively, the Cardinals allowed 22.9 points per game, but Watt may be able to help them there.
Additionally, the Cardinals are in the same division as the Seattle Seahawks, who went 12-4 in 2020, the San Francisco 49ers, who went to the Super Bowl during the 2019 season, and the LA Rams, who went 10-6 in 2020 and went to the Super Bowl during the 2018 season. Watt’s team may actually be the worst team in its division in 2021.
Sure, J.J. Watt can potentially help make the Arizona Cardinals a playoff team in 2021. As Stephen A. Smith said on ESPN, though, it’s hard to see them contending for a Super Bowl.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference