Let’s hope that the LA Rams won’t face DL J.J. Watt twice in 2021
By Bret Stuter
The LA Rams are familiar with an elite play on the defensive line, and with making the headlines in the NFL. But on this morning, it is not the Rams shaking up the league. The epicenter for today’s tremors is focused upon Houston Texas. Yes, the hot topic for today is the Houston Texans’ decision to release the long-time face of the franchise defensive lineman J.J. Watt.
Of course, releasing a player of Watt’s reputation and production is going to cause 31 other NFL teams to scramble in the hope of signing Watt to their defense. And why not? Watt is a three-time Defensive Player of the Year. He is just 31 years old and has played in 10 NFL seasons and 128 NFL games. He is a towering 6-foot-5 and weighs in at 288 pounds. He has a combined 531 tackles and 101 quarterback sacks.
And he is suddenly available for the highest bidder.
So why isn’t this article touting the virtues and reasons why Watt must be signed to the LA Rams? Why wouldn’t I run with the belief that pairing J.J. Watt and Aaron Donald would be all that the LA Rams need to put them over the hump and win Super Bowl LVI?
Bidding for Watt will start somewhere on the order of $17 million per year and upwards. That’s an investment that the Rams cannot afford to make in 2021. No, not at all. There are too many critical pieces to invest in. That amount of money could land the LA Rams S John Johnson III, DB Darious Williams, and could be a long way to re-signing C Austin Blythe. They are all far more important to the LA Rams’ chances of success in 2021.
Oh, but wouldn’t Watt look incredible lined up to Aaron Donald? Yeah, too incredible I’m afraid.
The problem now is that a player of Watt’s production is a free agent. He can sign with any other team in the NFL. And all things being equal, he could sign with an NFC West rival. That would be a very bad thing.
In the most recent version of Wednesday Walkabout the NFC West, we covered the salary cap status, free agency outlook, and even the latest rumors of the Rams’ NFC West rivals. Throughout the discussion, one thing was clear. The Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, and Seattle Seahawks do not have a wrecking ball on the defensive front like Aaron Donald.
And we’d like to keep it that way.
J.J. Watt does far more to improve the Cards, ‘Hawks, or 49ers than he would the Rams. If he is peak Watt? Then the team that signs him is a very very dangerous team. So dangerous, in fact, that I would not want to face that team twice a year.
Watt immediately raises the bar for any of the NFC West defenses. And to be truthful, their defenses are their weak point. The Seahawks can score points as long as Russell Wilson is their quarterback. Arizona Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray can put points on the scoreboard as long as he can run or throw to DeAndre Hopkins. And even I could put up points by handing off the ball to throwing to San Francisco 49ers’ tight end George Kittle.
They need to get better on defense. Watt does that for each team, and more.
Of course, Watt will draw attention from 30 teams. So the likelihood that he does sign to an NFC West team is no greater than 10 percent. Even still, I do not like those odds. On the Houston Texans, the LA Rams faced J.J. Watt just once every third or fourth season. And even that was too often.
The LA Rams cannot afford to sign J.J. Watt this year. Let’s hope that no other NFC West finds a way to pull off a ‘Les Snead-like’ miracle.