What a roller coaster ride we were taken on this morning by J.J. Watt. It started with a Peloton profile discovery.
As strange as that sounds — and, yes, the skepticism was warranted — all bets are off in the wonderful year of 2021 when it comes to free-agent athletes. The thought of Watt updating his final three team preferences as if he were a high school recruit narrowing down colleges, and doing it on his Peloton profile, is so damn wild, yet plausible. Watt seems a tad…let’s call it “unique” at times.
The idea of him updating his Peloton profile with his final three teams was just believable enough. But it wasn’t real.
The fake Peloton profile really started the mind’s gears grinding. Green Bay Packers, Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns. Outside of more cap space, the others don’t have anything the Packers don’t. The Packers are every bit the contenders the other two are. They’re Super Bowl-ready right now, and Watt is from Wisconsin.
If it’s down those three teams, Watt would give a little discount to play at home, right? Doesn’t it almost have to be Green Bay?
Turns out, it does not.
If Watt’s tweet about not owning a bike caused some pain, the next tweet was insult to injury.
There was initial shock as the Arizona Cardinals weren’t even being whispered about by anyone. Just goes to show all the smoke screens that get put up. Maybe at the end of it all, none of us really knows until it’s official.
When the financials were released, the pieces of the puzzle really came together. Two years, $31 million, $23 million guaranteed. Now Arizona makes all the sense in the world. You know what that should tell you folks? The Packers were never a legitimate option. N-E-V-E-R.
Sure, they probably talked with Watt, discussed it internally. But $23 million guaranteed over the next two years? Watt was never going to Green Bay.
And hey, how can you blame him? He turns 32 this month. He’s been banged up and missed a lot of time in three of the last five years. Go get that last bag, J.J. The interesting suggestion here is that for the Cardinals to fork over that kind of deal in the short term, they must honestly believe they were a J.J. Watt away from being a championship contender.
They certainly have the names: DeAndre Hopkins, Kyler Murray, Chandler Jones, Budda Baker. But there’s still a lot of unknowns with Kliff Kingsbury as a head coach and Kyler taking his game to that next tier. It helps Arizona, no doubt about it. But it seems to be a bit of a stretch to think they were a J.J. Watt away. Is that me being petty? Maybe.
For the Packers, this doesn’t really change the blueprint. Watt was a pipe dream at best for Green Bay, an awesome story with a great narrative that was never really realistic. Here’s the good news: We know now the Packers won’t be paying Watt, so it opens up more options for Green Bay when they cross that bridge in free agency.
They still have plenty to figure out. Do they give Davante Adams an extension right now? Do they restructure Aaron Rodgers? What about Za’Darius Smith? Does Preston Smith get cut? Or Dean Lowry? There’s still plenty to navigate on the current roster.
J.J. Watt was the first name that had traction and connections to the Packers, and he won’t be the last this year. I wouldn’t consider it a swing and a miss. The Packers stepped into the batter’s box, knew they were outmatched financially, and dribbled a ground out to the shortstop.
But there’s only one out.
As long as the Packers keep swinging, you might as well keep the faith that this offseason will shake out advantageously for the Packers, bleak though it looks right now. And if all else fails — if they lose Aaron Jones, Jamaal Williams, and Corey Linsley and they don’t get much help in free agency — what’s the circle-back point for years? When you have No. 12, you always have a chance.
Tip of the cap to J.J. Watt for securing his last bag. Time to officially turn the page and keep chugging along for Green Bay.