- Free agent J.J. Watt has signed with the Arizona Cardinals.
- Watt will join superstar pass rusher Chandler Jones in the Arizona defense.
- The Cardinals’ odds to win Super Bowl LVI moved from +4000 to +3000 with Watt’s signing.
Free agent pass rusher J.J. Watt has signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Cardinals.
Before the Cardinal made the official announcement, Watt himself broke out the news:
source: me. pic.twitter.com/1Y6okQBUy5
— JJ Watt (@JJWatt) March 1, 2021
Watt ended his 10-year tenure with the Houston Texans by asking the team for his release. The Texans granted his request on February 12 and four days later, former Texas teammate DeAndre Hopkins posted a photo of himself and Watt photoshopped in a Cardinals uniform with the caption: “Let’s finish what we started.”
On Monday, Watt not only reunited with Hopkins but with former Texas defensive backs coach Vance Joseph who is Arizona’s current defensive coordinator.
The 31-year old Watt won the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year award three times during his first five NFL seasons. He was the first player in the history of the NFL to record two 20+ sack seasons. Watt was the 11th overall pick of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans and is the team’s franchise record holder for sacks and forced fumbles.
QBs beware 😳 pic.twitter.com/eIHqzOLRjy
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) March 1, 2021
In Arizona, Watt will be joining a defense with a superstar pass rusher in Chandler Jones. Watt has been one of the best pass rushers in the league since he entered the league in 2011 with a career total of 101 sacks. On the other hand, no NFL player has more sacks since the start of 2012 than Jones’ 97. The player closest to Jones? Watt with 95.5 sacks during that period.
Since 2017, Watt has averaged 3.16 pressures per game, 5th most in the league. Meanwhile, Jones ranks 7th over that span for players who have played at least 40 games in the league with an average of 3.09. Watt had a pass rush win rate of 20.4 while Jones’ was 17.8 during his last full season in 2019. Now, they are teammates on the same defense, at least for now.
Jones is entering the final year of his contract and will be a $20.8M cap hit in 2021. Although Cardinals GM Steve Keim previously said that he would reject the idea of cutting Jones’ salary to save cap room, a lower NFL salary cap next season would force teams to make decisions they don’t want to make, and Arizona is no exception. But that’s looking ahead. For now, QBs’ should beware.
Cardinals’ Odds Movement
Lots of odds movement after the signing of J.J. Watt for the Arizona Cardinals:
Super Bowl odds: +4000 to +3300
NFC Champion odds: +2000 to +1400
NFC West odds: +500 to +450
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) March 1, 2021
While Watt’s transfer wasn’t as game changing as Tom Brady’s move to Tampa Bay last season, it was still very significant enough to cause movement in Arizona’s standing in the best NFL betting sites.
According to the online sportsbook BetOnline.ag, the Cardinals’ Super Bowl odds moved from +4000 to +3300 while their chances to win the NFC championship shortened from +2000 to +1400. Meanwhile, Arizona’s odds to top the NFC West division improved from +500 to +400.
Make no mistake though, the Cardinals are still in the bottom of what is a loaded division. The L.A. Rams are favored to win the NFC West at +195 while the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks are second and third at +200 and +300, respectively. But don’t sleep on the Cardinals who are coming off their best finish in three seasons. Arizona has not won their division since 2015 but don’t sleep on this team this coming season.