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Charles Robinson discusses how the Cardinals offered Watt significantly more than other teams, but believe he will contribute to a championship culture.
CHARLES ROBINSON: So JJ Watt is an Arizona Cardinal via a shocking two-year, $31 million deal with $23 million in guaranteed money. And the reason why this is shocking, I had a chance to talk to a couple of the franchises that were involved in the Watt pursuit, and both told me the same thing. They didn't get anywhere near the Arizona Cardinals ultimate number.
It sounded like teams were trying to get involved with Watt in the $10 to $12 million range. So the Arizona Cardinals add an additional pass rushing piece to pair with Chandler Jones. And what's interesting here is this is the Cardinals shooting their shot. I don't think there's any doubt that they sense some vulnerability in the NFC West with the Russell Wilson drama in Seattle, the Jimmy Garoppolo drama in San Francisco, a situation that I think is still tenuous even going into free agency, and then, obviously, you have the Los Angeles Rams that are swapping in Matt Stafford at quarterback here.
Now, for the Cardinals, what's interesting here is defensive coordinator, Vance Joseph, has some background with Watt. Vance Joseph was the defensive backs coach for the Houston Texans from 2011 to 2013. So there is some level of familiarity there. I think Kliff Kingsbury, being considered sort of a players' coach, also plays into this.
But ultimately, when you talk to the other teams that were involved in this pursuit, they tell you, look, it's about money. Watt got a huge amount of money here. $31 million over two years. Now we'll see how those guarantees stack up in terms of the disparity between the $23 million guaranteed and the $31 million overall, but that's far more than anyone really expected Watt to get on the market at 32-years-old.
Now, what's interesting here too, in the pursuit had a chance to talk to a couple of teams, sort of ask them how they envision Watt fitting into an NFL team moving forward at this age. And one guy who came up in one of the conversations was DeMarcus Ware who left the Dallas Cowboys in the past, had a flourish, a late career flourish starting at the age of 32 with the Denver Broncos. Put in a couple really good years for the Broncos, helped contribute to a Super Bowl team and a Super Bowl culture.
I think that's part of what the Arizona Cardinals are seeking here from the JJ Watt addition. So we'll see how this ultimately turns out for the Cardinals. A big addition. A very pricey addition that may even speak a little bit to what's coming in free agency. It looks like teams that will have a little bit of breathing space under the cap are going to be willing to splurge on players where they feel like maybe there aren't going to be other players on the market, like pass rusher, maybe offensive tackle. There aren't going to be a ton of options at certain positions.
Teams are still going to be able to spend big on the positions where they really feel like they have a considerable need. And then you're going to see a lot of mid-level free agents maybe scrounging for the deals that they would normally get if there was not a salary cap rollback. So very interesting early deal. Foreshadows free agency. The Arizona Cardinals taking a big step into 2021 with JJ Watt.