How Packers could pitch J.J. Watt on playing in Green Bay

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Zach Kruse
·4 min read
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The J.J. Watt sweepstakes have officially begun. The Green Bay Packers, like so many other teams interested in adding the future Hall of Fame defensive lineman, will need to sell Watt on why it makes sense to join their team over all the others already lining up to add him.

The pitch might be easier for the Packers, who have some incredible built-in advantages. But without significant financial resources available, the Packers may have to lean on other relevant factors to win the opportunity to acquire the former Houston Texans defender.

Here’s how the Packers could try to sell Watt on the idea of playing in Green Bay in 2021:

Nearly guaranteed opportunity at playing postseason football. The Packers have been to the postseason 10 times in the last 12 years, including seven times as a division champion. They won a Super Bowl in 2010 and have played in five NFC title games over that span. No more sitting at home during January.

Team is ready to win right now. The Packers are 26-6 over the last two seasons, with back-to-back NFC North titles and back-to-back trips to the NFC title game. Watt has never even been to a conference title game. This is a team in position to contend for the Super Bowl this season. No rebuild necessary.

Hall of Fame quarterback. Playing with Deshaun Watson wasn’t enough in Houston, but in Green Bay, Watt would get Aaron Rodgers, the 2020 NFL MVP and future Hall of Famer. In Year 2 with Matt LaFleur, Rodgers created 51 touchdowns and led the No. 1 scoring defense. Who knows what he’ll do for an encore in 2021.

Chance to add to legacy. Watt has done it all individually. Coming home and helping Rodgers and the Packers get back to the Super Bowl would add an impressive chapter to his Hall of Fame career. He’d forever be one of the most adored and decorated players in the state’s history.

– Pass-rushing opportunities. All great defenders love disrupting the quarterback. Well, the Packers often play with a lead and provide opportunities to go get the passer. Watt only had five sacks last season, but he was still disruptive. Better game scripts in Green Bay could unlock more pass-rushing production from Watt.

Stable leadership structure. The Packers operate on the opposite end of spectrum as the Texans, who have quickly become the laughing stock franchise of the league. The Packers have four strong leaders – Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst, Russ Ball and Mark Murphy – running a stable franchise that knows how to win. Consistently.

Help up front. So long, constant double teams. The Packers have Za’Darius Smith, Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary already in place in the defensive front four. Add Watt into the mix, and everyone’s life gets easier, including Watt’s. Offenses can’t double team everyone.

Chance to fill leadership void. The Packers already have Rodgers to lead on offense. The defense could use a leader with the same level of clout. Think of when the Packers added Charles Woodson or Julius Peppers. Watt could be the universally respected leader this talented group needs. And he would embrace the opportunity.

– Scheme. We don’t know much about new defensive coordinator Joe Barry yet, but he was in Los Angeles with Aaron Donald for four years, so he should have a pretty good idea about getting interior defenders the right opportunities to create disruption. Watt and Donald aren’t synonymous players, but Barry will likely bring a gap-attacking plan to Green Bay that could fit Watt’s abilities.

– No. 99 is (pretty much) available. Watt has worn No. 99 going back to his days in Madison. Practice squad defensive lineman Willington Previlon holds the number now, but the guess here is that Watt could get it without much trouble. Just think how many No. 99 Watt jerseys the team would sell.

– Close to home. Last but not least, playing in Green Bay means returning to Wisconsin. Watt is already a beloved figure within the state and still resides there during the offseason. He grew up as a fan of the team and would almost certainly cherish the chance to come home and fulfill a little kid’s dream of wearing the green and gold and playing at Lambeau Field.

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