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The Arizona Cardinals made a big splash in free agency even before free agency officially began when they inked defensive end J.J. Watt to a two-year deal for $28 million and up to $31 million if he has at least 10 sacks in both 2021 and 2022. However, the deal has left many wondering why he chose to sign with the Cardinals when other teams seemed to make more sense.
After all, he could have played with his brothers on the Pittsburgh Steelers. He could have been close to a Super Bowl with the Buffalo Bills or Cleveland Browns. He could have gone back home to play for the Green Bay Packers.
Obviously, the money the Cardinals offered was a big factor.
At his introductory press conference, Watt detailed some of the reasons why the Cardinals made sense and why “the signs kept pointing back down here.”
They have QB Kyler Murray
Having a quarterback with championship potential was important. General manager Steve Keim said Murray's place on the team "got us in the game" in negotiating with Watt. Watt admitted it was a factor. "I’ve always said in this league you have to have a quarterback to have a chance, and there’s a young, extremely talented quarterback here who can do big things and is going from Year 2 to Year 3 and can take an even bigger jump to continue to grow and progress and be even better," Watt said in his press conference.
They have WR DeAndre Hopkins
In addition to Murray at quarterback, the Cardinals have a dynamic playmaker and former teammate. "You’ve got DeAndre Hopkins, who is one of the best wide receivers in the league, who I’m obviously very familiar with," Watt noted.
Vance Joseph's defensive scheme
Watt liked the idea of playing in a defense he already knew. "You’ve got a defensive scheme that’s led by Vance Joseph, who I was with my first few years down in Houston under Wade Phillips," he said. "Vance runs a similar scheme to Wade, which is a scheme I’m very familiar with and very comfortable with and excited to play in." He expects to move around on the defensive front. He played both as an interior lineman and as an edge rusher when he played for the Texans. He will likely have a similar role for Arizona.
Talent on defense
It wasn't just the defensive scheme. Watt also was intrigued by the talent on Arizona's defense. "You’ve got guys like Chandler Jones and Budda Baker and guys all over that defense that are really young, excited guys, ready to get after it, ready to fly around and make some plays," he said.
This is always a bit of a selling point, especially in the offseason. He knows the Wisconsin cold. He admitted he liked how it is here in the mornings. "I’m also not going to lie to you, it doesn’t hurt when it's 65 degrees and sunny outside when I woke up this morning, so it’s pretty nice," he said. Listen to the latest from Cards Wire's Jess Root on his podcast, Rise Up, See Red. Subscribe on Apple podcasts or Spotify. Latest show: