J.J. Watt tweeted last week that free agency is “wild“.
It also seems like free agency is pretty fun. He’s gotta be loving that he can send mysterious tweets about “mitochondria” and send a handful of NFL fanbases into a hurricane of dot connecting about what it might mean. Something that goes double for BillsMafia (though, I’ll admit Buffalo being the home of the Mitochondria Research Society is a fairly juicy connection).
And why not. Watt is living every Joe Sixpack’s dream. You walk into your boss’ office. You tell him you’re fed up and you quit. Then, you get to write your ticket to do the exact same job where you want, for (relatively) how much you want and with who you want.
We all would love to be J.J. Watt right about now. Thanks to my magical keyboard and your attention, dear reader, I’m going to be just that.
If the entire NFL world was my oyster, where would I go? This isn’t a prediction on where Watt will sign. This is what I would do if I were in Watt’s glorious position.
There are still some limitations. I have to follow the Ed Werder report on Watt’s priorities: championship, QB, supporting cast, money. That’s easy. Those would all be among my top priorities anyway if I were an NFL player.
Werder also reported there were around a dozen teams interested in Watt, but I’m starting from scratch. Every team gets at least a moment to be considered. Here goes…
Texans, Jets, Bengals, Jags, Raiders, Broncos, Washington, Giants, Eagles, Lions, Panthers, Falcons: Not even taking their call.
Saints, Rams, Chiefs, Cowboys: Can’t pay me enough.
Bears: Watching the QB here would be exhausting. (I know Watt’s wife plays pro soccer in Chicago, but that conversation will be his problem)
Dolphins: See above, but leaving a card in case they end up with DeShaun Watson.
Vikings, Cardinals: Imagine you’re at work and you spot that leftover pizza box sitting out in the break room. You open the box and discover it’s a veggie pizza with olives, broccoli, spinach and raw tomatoes. That’s these two teams. Definitely worth a look, but ultimately, unappealing.
Patriots: Tommy spent all last season wearing the Cheshire cat grin. Message received.
Niners: Not sure the D-line could get much better, especially on the ends. It would be like buying the Mona Lisa to hang it from the Sistine Chapel.
Chargers: If only Patrick Mahomes wasn’t in the division.
Ravens: I like Lamar Jackson, but I just don’t trust this offense to be successful deep into the postseason.
Titans: Not having to tackle Derrick Henry certainly goes in the ‘pro’ column, but Watt was just on a bad defense. Can they sign six of him?
Seahawks: Any situation that gets squeaky clean Russell Wilson to start airing dirty laundry is crossed off my list.
Steelers: Would be great to play with brothers, but they can’t pay enough unless they get rid of Big Ben and then, well…
Browns: Myles Garrett can take the double teams off me and there’s more than enough cap space to pay me. Check and check.
The cold would be a negative for me here. Watt has had back surgery, core surgery, broke a leg and tore a pec. That’s not the type of body I want subjected to a frigid climate.
Watt is from Wisconsin and still spends his offseason there in a log cabin far from civilization (though, he’s hardly ‘roughing‘ it). He’s not going to be afraid of the cold, but this is a business decision.
Since the injuries began, Watt has played three games under 40 degrees. The Browns played three games that cold just at home, just last year. I just don’t want to put my various surgically repaired parts through the winter wringer.
Packers: Speaking of cold weather, Green Bay played eight (!) home games last season at less than 40 degrees. However, getting a shot with the reigning MVP warms the football heart real quick.
The Packers are getting the hometown love in the Watt discussion, but he grew up two hours from Green Bay. That’s like someone from Rochester getting closer to home by moving to Utica. The cap situation here is also the worst among the final five teams on my list. The allure of playing for the Packers team Watt rooted for as a kid is intoxicating, but I think there are still other choices.
Bills: No team appears to be more “one superstar pass rusher away” than the Bills. Becoming the guy that put Buffalo over the top for its first Super Bowl win is incredibly appealing.
If I’m Watt, the Bills feel like the “regrets” team. There’s a lot of a good reasons to be there, but I’d always feel like the grass was greener somewhere else. The Bills have some cap room, but not the most. Allen is a really good QB, but he’s not Rodgers. Jerry Hughes is a heckuva pass rusher, but he’s not Myles Garrett. Buffalo is a hard nosed, blue collar football team/town, but not the one I grew up cheering.
Buffalo is going to be among the finalists, but I need to be convinced I’m getting the best of… something… signing here. (Maybe the best combination will be enough for Watt)
Colts: I like this idea a lot. DeForest Buckner is an attention demander on the defensive line and Indy has a defensive coordinator who got head coach buzz (Matt Eberflus). There’s more than enough cap space for me plus two or three friends to sign and I trust Chris Ballard to keep building a top notch roster. I’m also very familiar with the division.
The only problem is pushing my chips in with Carson Wentz. I like him, but I’m not sure if I like him, like him. I think there is a better option available, but if I’m wrong, this could quickly be the place for me.
Bucs: Call me Kevin Durant. I’m gonna join the champs. Tampa has it all. There’s enough cap room to give me a fair deal. I get to play with the GOAT instead of trying to dethrone him and I get to see him while he’s still a master of his craft. They can sign me AND bring back Shaq Barrett (probably). My aching muscles get to stay nice and toasty. This is home.
The big question with Tampa is whether they would want Watt. The Bucs have a half dozen free agents of import and Bruce Arians has already said the goal is to keep the band together.
As much fun as it is to play the role of Watt, there’s more to this decision than just QBs and cap room. If I’m Watt, I’d be getting to know an organization as much as I can before signing, even if it’s only virtually. I’m sure he will.
Most free agents choose their next team by the dollars and the cents. For Watt, the difference might be the ladies and the gents.
Watt has tweeted it’ll be a while until he decides. Until then, I’m guessing he’ll have some fun keeping fans guessing. I would.