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Tuesday, May 11, 2021

J.J. Watt Rumors: Browns, Colts Offered Star Richer Contracts Than Cardinals

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Houston Texans' J.J. Watt (99) watches before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears, Sunday, Dec. 13, 2020, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

Charles Rex Arbogast/Associated Press

J.J. Watt apparently took less money to land with the Arizona Cardinals this offseason.

ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Watt will receive $31 million over two years, $23 million of which is guaranteed. According to John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, the Cleveland Browns and Indianapolis Colts put more money on the table for the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

Ed Werder of ESPN also reported Arizona’s quarterback situation factored into the equation:

Ed Werder @WerderEdESPN

I was told JJ Watt’s first criteria in choosing his team would be the the quality of the quarterback. So this seems an endorsement of @K1 https://t.co/VitQfjrquN

The exact details of Watt’s additional offers remain unclear. ESPN’s Dianna Russini reported last Thursday he had received a contract worth between $15 million and $16 million, which is within the range of what he’ll collect from the Cardinals.

Perhaps the Browns and/or Colts were willing to include more guaranteed money or hand Watt a longer deal.

Regardless, the 31-year-old will now be reuniting with former Houston Texans teammate DeAndre Hopkins.

James Palmer @JamesPalmerTV

Just posted on DeAndre Hopkins IG. https://t.co/ApHNabinMB

That the Cardinals landed Watt wasn’t a complete surprise. B/R’s Kristopher Knox listed an edge-rusher as one of the team’s top priorities this offseason.

On defense, Arizona needs to address its pass rush,” Knox wrote. “Chandler Jones played just five games before he landed on injured reserve because of a torn biceps, and he’ll be in the final year of his deal in 2021. Haason Reddick leads the team with five sacks but is already in the final year of his contract.”

However, Arizona is facing a bit of a cap crunch.

Spotrac projects the team to have $17.3 million available to spend with an $185 million salary cap, a figure that doesn’t fully reflect Watt’s arrival because his 2021 cap hit is unknown.

While the addition of Watt allows the Cardinals to more easily move on from Reddick if his price tag climbs too high, they still have to consider the futures of Kenyan Drake, Larry Fitzgerald and Patrick Peterson. Their financial flexibility is evaporating fast, with the start of free agency still more than two weeks away on March 17.

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