ESPN lists Ravens as a sleeper team to go after J.J. Watt

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Ryan Wormeli
·3 min read
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ESPN lists Ravens as a sleeper team to sign J.J. Watt originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The Ravens have had a lot of success bringing established, if slightly past their prime, veterans to Baltimore over the years. Their strong reputation as a winning organization that treats its players with respect has made them a prime target for veterans looking to team up with a playoff roster in their later years.

They've hit home runs with additions like Derrick Mason, Anquan Boldin, Steve Smith Sr., Calais Campbell and countless others. Now, the latest veteran looking for a new team to be linked to the Ravens is longtime Texans star J.J. Watt.

ESPN came up with a list of favored teams to sign Watt after it was announced that he and the Texans had mutually agreed to part ways. Now that he has been released, he is free to sign with whichever franchise he chooses. It's not clear what his priorities in free agency will be, but it seems likely that winning will be high on the list.

The Ravens didn't make ESPN's top five, but they were mentioned as a potential sleeper team in the pursuit of Watt. The big defensive end seems like an obvious fit with the Ravens, both in terms of talent and culture fit. But the truth is he would be a great fit with almost any successful organization in the league.

With the Ravens in particular, ESPN mentions they are "all about maximizing the defensive line with veterans, a plan that worked smoothly with the acquisition of Calais Campbell, who made the Pro Bowl at age 34 in his first year in Baltimore. Campbell's agent is Tom Condon, one of Watt's agents."

Watt, the 11th overall pick in the 2011 NFL Draft, has been one of the best players in football from almost the day he stepped onto a professional field. He's made five All-Pro teams, won three Defensive Player of the Year awards in a four-year span and is the only player in NFL history with multiple 20-plus sack seasons.

He also has a well-deserved reputation for his philanthropic efforts in Houston, and he was named the 2017 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He has 101.0 sacks in 128 career games, and injuries combined with the addition of Aaron Donald to the league in 2014 are the only two factors keeping him from being thought of as the best defensive player of the decade.

Watt is a no-doubt-about-it future first-ballot Hall of Famer, and those types of players don't grow on trees, even at 31 (soon to be 32) years old. Four of the five teams ESPN listed were playoff teams in 2020, as was an additional sleeper team alongside Baltimore.

All in all, it's probably too early for fans in Baltimore to start printing custom Watt jerseys just yet. But the Ravens do have a definite need at pass-rusher, a stellar reputation and a little bit of money to play with. If those things are appealing to Watt, then they may just end up being a perfect match.